Talmud - Mas. Megilah 17a
Why are the years of Ishmael mentioned? So as to reckon by them the years of Jacob, as it is written, And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, a hundred and thirty and seven years.1 How much older was Ishmael than Isaac? Fourteen years, as it is written, And Abram was fourscore and six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram,2 and it is also written, And Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him,3 and it is written, And Isaac was threescore years old when she bore them.4 How old then was Ishmael when Jacob was born? Seventy-four. How many years were left of his life? Sixty-three; and it has been taught: Jacob our father at the time when he was blessed by his father was sixty-three years old. It was just at that time that Ishmael died, as it is written, Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob...so Esau went unto Ishmael and took Mahlath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham's son the sister of Nebaioth.5 Now once it has been said, ‘Ishmael's daughter’ do I not know that she was the sister of Nebaioth? This tells us then that Ishmael affianced her and then died, and Nebaioth her brother gave her in marriage.6 Sixty-three and fourteen till Joseph was born7 make seventy-seven, and it is written, And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh.8 This makes a hundred and seven. Add seven years of plenty and two of famine,9 and we have a hundred and sixteen, and it is written, And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How many are the days of the years of thy life? And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my sojournings are a hundred and thirty years.10 But [we have just seen that] they were only a hundred and sixteen? We must conclude therefore that he spent fourteen years in the house of Eber,11 as it has been taught: ‘After Jacob our father had left for Aram Naharaim two years.12 Eber died’. He then went forth from where he was13 and came to Aram Naharaim. From this14 it follows that when he stood by the well he was seventy-seven years old. And how do we know that he was not punished [for these fourteen years]? As it has been taught: ‘We find that Joseph was away from his father twenty-two years.15 just as Jacob our father was absent from his father’. But Jacob's absence was thirty-six years?16 It must be then that the fourteen years which he was in the house of Eber are not reckoned. But when all is said and done, the time he spent in the house of Laban was only twenty years?17 — The fact is that [he was also punished] because he spent two years on the way, as it has been taught: He left Aram Naharaim and came to Succoth and spent there eighteen months, as it says, And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built him a house, and made booths for his cattle;18 and in Bethel he spent six months and brought there sacrifices.
MISHNAH. IF ONE READS THE MEGILLAH BACKWARDS,19 HE HAS NOT PERFORMED HIs OBLIGATION. IF HE READS IT BY HEART, IF HE READS IT IN A TRANSLATION [TARGUM] IN ANY LANGUAGE,20 HE HAS NOT PERFORMED HIS OBLIGATION. IT MAY, HOWEVER, BE READ TO THOSE WHO DO NOT UNDERSTAND HEBREW21 IN A LANGUAGE OTHER THAN HEBREW. IF ONE WHO DOES NOT UNDERSTAND HEBREW HEARS IT READ IN HEBREW, HE HAS PERFORMED HIS OBLIGATION. IF ONE READS IT WITH BREAKS,22 OR WHILE HALF-ASLEEP, HE HAS PERFORMED HIS OBLIGATION. IF HE WAS COPYING IT, CORRECTING IT OR EXPOUNDING IT, THEN IF [IN DOING SO] HE PUT HIS MIND [ALSO TO THE READING] OF IT HE HAS PERFORMED HIS OBLIGATION, BUT OTHERWISE NOT. IF [THE COPY FROM WHICH HE READS] IS WRITTEN WITH SAM, WITH SIKRA, WITH KUMUS, OR WITH KANKANTUM,23 OR ON NEYAR OR DIFTERA,23 HE HAS NOT PERFORMED HIS OBLIGATION; IT MUST BE WRITTEN IN HEBREW24 ON PARCHMENT25 AND IN INK.
GEMARA. Whence is this rule [not to read backward] derived? — Raba said: The text says, according to the writing thereof and according to the appointed time thereof:26 just as the appointed time cannot be backward,27 so the [reading from the] writing must not be backward. But does the text speak here of reading? It speaks of keeping, as it is written, that they would keep these two days? — The truth is that we derive the rule from here, as it is written: And that these days should be remembered and kept.28 ‘Remembering’ is here put on the same footing as ‘keeping’: just as keeping cannot be in the wrong order, so remembering also.
A Tanna stated: The same rule applies to Hallel,29 to the recital of the Shema’,29 and to the ‘Amidah29 prayer. Whence do we derive the rule as regards Hallel? — Rabbah said: Because it is written, From the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof [the Lord's name is to be praised].30 R. Joseph said, [from here]: This is the day which the Lord hath made.31 R. Awia said: Let the name of the Lord be blessed.32 R. Nahman b. Isaac — or you may also say, R. Aha b Jacob — said, It is from here: From this time forth and for ever.33
‘To the recital of the Shema’’, as it has been taught: The Shema’ must be recited as it is written.34 So Rabbi. The Sages, however, say: It may be recited in any language. What is Rabbi's reason? Scripture says
(1) Gen. XXV, 17.
(2) Ibid. XVI, 16.
(3) Ibid. XXI, 5.
(4) Ibid. XXV, 26.
(5) Ibid. XXVIII, 6-9.
(6) Which shows that Ishmael died just about the time that Isaac blessed Jacob.
(7) It is reckoned by the Talmud that Jacob had been with Laban fourteen years when Joseph was born. V. Gen. XXXI, 41.
(8) Ibid. XLI, 46.
(9) V. Ibid. XLV, 6.
(10) Ibid. XLVII, 8,9.
(11) [So Rashi: cur. edd., ‘the fourteen years he spent . . . are not reckoned’.]
(12) [So Rashi: cur. edd. introduce passage with: ‘Jacob lay hidden in the house of Eber for fourteen years’.]
(13) This is the reading here of the Bah. The reading of the text is unintelligible.
(14) [By calculating the years Eber lived, v. Gen. XI, 17.]
(15) He left when he was seventeen, he was thirty when he stood before Pharaoh, and seven years of plenty and two of famine passed before he saw his father.
(16) He left when he was sixty-three and returned when he was ninety-nine.
(17) V. Gen. XXXI, 41.
(18) Gen. XXXIII, 17: a ‘house’ for one summer, and two ‘booths’ for two winters.
(19) [Perhaps as a magical incantation for driving away demons. V. Blau Das altjudische Zauberwesen pp. 146ff.]
(20) [MS.M. If he read it in Targum (Aramaic); if he read it in any other language. The text of cur. edd. can also bear this interpretation, v. Rashi 18a s.v. קראה].
(21) לעוזות people speaking a foreign (לעז) language.
(22) I.e., reads a part and then waits some time before resuming v. Gemara.
(23) Because these materials fade. A similar rule was laid down with regard to the Get. For the meaning of these terms, v. infra in the Gemara.
(24) Lit., ‘Assyrian" characters’; v. supra 8b.
(25) Lit., ‘on the book’. [Var lec. ‘on skin’.]
(26) Esth. IX, 27.
(27) I.e., the fifteenth cannot come before the fourteenth.
(28) Esth. IX, 28. The Hebrew word זכירה means both ‘remembering’ and ‘mentioning’.
(29) V. Glos.
(30) Ps. CXIII, 3. Just as the sun never goes backward from West to East, so the praise of the Lord should not be recited backward.
(31) Ibid. CXVIII, 24. The day also cannot go backward.
(32) Ibid. CXIII, 2.
(34) I.e., in the original language.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 17b
, [And these words] shall be,1 which implies, they shall be kept as they are. And what is the reason of the Rabbis? — Because Scripture says, Hear,2 which implies, in any language which you understand. How then can Rabbi [hold otherwise], seeing that it is written, ‘hear’? — He requires that word for the injunction, ‘Let thine ear hear what thou utterest with thy mouth’. The Rabbis, however, concurred with the authority who said that if one recites the Shema’ without making it audible, he has performed his obligation. But the Rabbis too — [how can they hold as they do], seeing that it is written, ‘And they shall be’? — They require this for the injunction that it should not be recited backwards. Whence does Rabbi derive the rule that it should not be recited backwards? From [the use of the expression] ‘the words’, where ‘words’ [would have been sufficient]. The Rabbis, however, do not accept this distinction between ‘the words’ and ‘words’.
May we say that Rabbi was of opinion that the whole of the Torah has been ordained [to be recited] in any language?3 For should you assume that it has been ordained [to be recited] only in the holy tongue, why should the words ‘and they shall be’ be inserted [in reference to the Shema’]? — These were necessary. For it might have occurred to me to understand ‘hear’ in the same sense as the Rabbis:4 therefore the All-Merciful wrote ‘and they shall be’. May we then say that the Rabbis were of opinion that the whole of the Torah was ordained [to be recited] only in the holy tongue, since, should you assume that it was ordained to be recited in any language, [I might ask], why should ‘hear’ be inserted [in reference to the Shema’]? — This word is necessary. For it might occur to me to understand ‘and they shall be’ in the same sense as Rabbi. Therefore the All-Merciful wrote, ‘hear’.
‘To the ‘Amidah prayer’. Whence is this derived? — As it has been taught: ‘Simeon the Pakulite5 formulated eighteen blessings in the presence of Rabban Gamaliel in the proper6 order in Jabneh.7 R. Johanan said (others report, it was stated in a Baraitha): A hundred and twenty elders, among whom were many prophets, drew up eighteen blessings in a fixed order’.
Our Rabbis taught: Whence do we derive that the blessing of the Patriarchs8 should be said? Because it says, Ascribe unto the Lord, O ye sons of might.9 And whence that we say the blessing of mighty deeds?10 Because it says, Ascribe unto the Lord glory and strength.11 And whence that we say sanctifications?12 Because it says, Ascribe unto the Lord the glory due unto His name, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.13 What reason had they for mentioning understanding14 after holiness? Because it says, They shall sanctify the Holy One of Jacob and shall stand in awe of the God of Israel,15 and next to this, They also that err in spirit shall come to understanding. What reason had they for mentioning repentance16 after understanding? Because it is written, Lest they, understanding with their heart, return and be healed.17 If that is the reason, healing should be mentioned next to repentance?18 — Do not imagine such a thing, since it is written, And let him return unto the Lord and He will have compassion upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.19 But why should you rely upon this verse? Rely rather on the other! — There is written another verse, Who forgiveth all thine iniquity, who healeth all thy diseases, who redeemeth thy life from the pit,20 which implies that redemption and healing come after forgiveness. But it is written, ‘Lest they return and be healed’? That refers not to the healing of sickness but to the healing [power] of forgiveness. What was their reason for mentioning redemption in the seventh blessing?21 Raba replied: Because they [Israel] are destined to be redeemed in the seventh year [of the coming of the Messiah],22 therefore the mention of redemption was placed in the seventh blessing. But a Master has said, ‘In the sixth year will be thunderings, in the seventh wars, at the end of the seventh the son of David will come’? — War is also the beginning of redemption. What was their reason for mentioning healing in the eighth blessing? — R. Aha said: Because circumcision which requires healing is appointed for the eighth day, therefore it was placed in the eighth blessing. What was their reason for placing the [prayer for the] blessing of the years ninth? R. Alexandri said: This was directed against those who raise the market price [of foodstuffs], as it is written, Break thou the arm of the wicked; and when David said this, he said it in the ninth Psalm.23
What was their reason for mentioning the gathering of the exiles after the blessing of the years? — Because it is written, But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to thy people Israel, for they are at hand to come.24 And when the exiles are assembled, judgment will be visited on the wicked, as it says, And I will turn my hand upon thee and purge away thy dross as with lye,25 and it is written further, And I will restore thy judges as at the first.26 And when judgment is visited on the wicked, transgressors cease,27 and presumptuous sinners28 are included with them, as it is written, But the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the Lord shall be consumed.29 And when the transgressors have disappeared, the horn of the righteous is exalted,30 as it is written, All the horns of the wicked also will I cut off, but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up.31 And ‘proselytes of righteousness’32 are included with the righteous, as it says, thou shalt rise up before the hoary head and honour the face of the old man,33 and the text goes on, And if a stranger sojourn with thee. And where is the horn of the righteous exalted? In Jerusalem,34 as it says, Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, may they prosper that love thee.35 And when Jerusalem is built, David36 will come, as it says.
(1) Deut. VI, 6.
(2) Ibid. 4. The word שמע means both ‘hear’ and ‘understand’.
(3) According to Tosaf., this refers only to those passages of the Scripture which were to be recited on special occasions, e.g., the passage relating to the first-fruit, the declaration of halizah etc.
(4) Viz., in any language.
(5) Possibly this means ‘cotton dealer’ (Rashi).
(6) I.e. one based on Scriptural texts, as explained infra.
(7) V. Ber. 28b.
(8) The first blessing, containing the words, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’. For the ‘Amidah prayer v. P.B. pp. 44ff.
(9) Ps. XXIX, 1. ‘Sons of might’ is taken as a description of the Patriarchs. The Talmud renders: ‘Mention before the Lord the sons of might’, i.e., the Patriarchs.
(10) The second blessing, mentioning the ‘mighty deed’ of the resurrection.
(11) Ps. XXIX, 1.
(12) The third blessing beginning, ‘Thou art holy’.
(13) Ibid. 2.
(14) In the fourth blessing, beginning, ‘Thou grantest to man understanding’.
(15) Isa. XXIX, 23f.
(16) In the fifth blessing, commencing, ‘Bring us back, O Father’.
(17) Ibid. VI, 10.
(18) Whereas in fact it comes in the next blessing but one, ‘redemption’ being interposed.
(19) Ibid. LV, 7.
(20) Ps. CIII, 3f.
(21) Concluding, ‘Blessed art thou, O Lord, who redeemest Israel’.
(22) V. Sanh. 97a.
(23) In our books it is the tenth (v. 15), but the Talmud apparently reckoned the first and second Psalms as one.
(24) Ezek. XXXVI, 8.
(25) Isa. I, 25.
(26) Ibid. 26. The next blessing proceeds, ‘Restore our judges’. etc.
(27) MS. M. minim (plur. of min v. Glos.).
(28) Mentioned in the next blessing. This, however, was not one of the original eighteen, v. Ber. 28b.
(29) Ibid. 28.
(30) The next blessing concludes, ‘the support and trust of the righteous’.
(31) Ps. LXXV, II.
(32) Mentioned in the same blessing. ‘Proselytes of Righteousness’ are converts who completely accept the Jewish creed and life.
(33) Lev. XIX, 32.
(34) Mentioned in the next blessing.
(35) Ps. CXXII, 6.
(36) Mentioned in the next blessing, which commences, ‘Cause to sprout quickly the shoot of David’.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 18a
Afterwards shall the children of Israel return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king.1 And when David comes, prayer2 will come, as it says. Even then will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer.3 And when prayer has come, the Temple service4 will come, as it says, Their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be acceptable upon mine altar.5 And when the service comes, thanksgiving6 will come, as it says. Whoso offereth the sacrifice of thanksgiving honoureth me.7 What was their reason for inserting the priestly benediction after thanksgiving? Because it is written, And Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and he came down from offering the sin-offering and the burnt-offering and the peace-offerings.8 But cannot I say that he did this before the service? — Do not imagine such a thing. For it is written, ‘and he came down from offering’. Is it written ‘to offer’? It is written, ‘from offering’.9 Why not then say it [the priestly benediction] after the [blessing of] the Temple service? — Do not imagine such a thing, since it is written, whoso offereth the sacrifice of thankgiving.10 Why base yourself upon this verse? Why not upon the other? — It is reasonable to regard service and thanksgiving as one. What was their reason for having ‘give peace’ said after the priestly benediction? — Because it is written, So they [the priests] shall put my name upon the children of Israel, and [then] I shall bless them;11 and the blessing of the Holy One, blessed be He, is peace, as it says, The Lord shall bless his people with peace.12
Seeing now that a hundred and twenty elders, among whom were many prophets. drew up the prayers in the proper order, why did Simeon the Pakulite formulate them? — They were forgotten, and he formulated them afresh. Beyond this it is forbidden to declare the praise of the Holy One, blessed be He.13 For R. Eleazar said: What is the meaning of the verse, Who can express the mighty acts of the Lord, or make all his praise to be heard?14 For whom is it fitting to express the mighty acts of the Lord? For one who can make all his praise to be heard. Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said in the name of R. Johanan: One who descants upon the praises of the Holy One, blessed be He, to excess is uprooted from the world, as it says, Shall it be told to him that I should speak? Should a man [try to] say, surely he would be swallowed up.15 R. Judah a man of Kefar Gibboraya,16 or, as some say, of Kefar Gibbor Hayil,17 gave the following homily: What is meant by the verse, For thee silence is praise?18 The best medicine of all is silence. When R. Dimi came, he said: In the West19 they say: A word is worth a sela’, silence two sela's.
IF ONE READS IT BY HEART, HE HAS NOT PERFORMED HIS OBLIGATION. Whence this rule? — Raba said: We explain the expression zekirah20 in one passage from its use in another. It is written here, And these days shall be nizkarim21 [remembered] and it is written elsewhere, Write this le-zikaron [for a memorial] in the book.22 Just as there it was to be in a book, so here it must be in a book. But how do we know that this ‘nizkarim’ implies ‘uttering’? Perhaps it means mere reading with the eyes? — Do not imagine such a thing, since it his been taught: ‘Remember’ [zakor].23 Am I to say, this means only with the mind? When the text says, thou shalt not forget, the injunction against mental forgetfulness is already given. What then am I to make of ‘remember’? This must mean, by utterance.24
IF ONE READS IT IN A TRANSLATION, HE HAS NOT PERFORMED HIS OBLIGATION. How are we to understand this? Are we to suppose that it is written in Hebrew and he reads it in a translaion? This is the same as reading by heart! — It is required for the case where it is written in a translation and he reads it in a translation.
IT MAY, HOWEVER, BE READ TO THOSE WHO DO NOT SPEAK HEBREW IN A LANGUAGE OTHER THAN HEBREW. But you have just said, IF ONE READS IT IN ANY [OTHER] LANGUAGE HE HAS NOT PERFORMER HIS OBLIGATION? — Rab and Samuel both answered that what is referred to here is the Greek vernacular. How are we to understand this? Shall we say that it is written in Hebrew and he reads it in Greek? This is the same as saying by heart? — R. Aha said in the name of R. Eleazar: What is referred to is where it is written in the Greek vernacular.
(R. Aha also said in the name of R. Eleazar: How do we know that the Holy One, blessed be He, called Jacob El [God]25 Because it says, And the God of Israel called him [Jacob] El.26 For should you suppose that [what the text means is that] Jacob called the altar El, then it should be written, ‘And Jacob called it’. But [as it is not written so], we must translate, ‘He called Jacob El’. And who called him so? The God of Israel).
An objection was brought [against the dictum of Rab and Samuel] from the following: ‘If one reads it in Coptic,27 in Hebraic,28 in Elamean, in Median, in Greek, he has not performed his obligation’! — This [statement]29 means only in the same sense as the following: ‘If one reads it in Coptic to the Copts,30 in Hebrew to the Hebrews, in Elamean to the Elameans, in Greek to the Greeks, he has performed his obligation’. If that is the case, why do Rab and Samuel explain the Mishnah to refer to the Greek vernacular? Let them make it refer to any vernacular? — The fact is that the Mishnah agrees with the Baraitha,31 and the statement of Rab and Samuel was meant to be a general one [thus]: Rab and Samuel both say that the Greek vernacular is good for all peoples. But it is stated, ‘[He may read] in Greek for the Greeks’ — for the Greeks, that is, he may, but for others not? — They [Rab and Samuel] concurred with Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel, as we have learnt: ‘Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel says: Scrolls of the Scripture also were allowed to be written only in Greek’.32 Let them then say, The halachah is as stated by Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel? — Had they said, The halachah is as stated by Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel, I should have understood them to mean that this is the case with other books of the Scriptures but not with the Megillah, of which it is written, according to the writing thereof.33 Therefore we are told [that this is not so].
IF ONE WHO DOES NOT UNDERSTAND HEBREW HEARD IT READ IN HEBREW, HE HAS PERFORMED HIS OBLIGATION. But he does not know what they are saying? — he is on the same footing as women and ignorant people. Rabina strongly demurred to this saying;34 And do we know the meaning of ha-ahashteranim bene ha-ramakim?35 But all the same we perform the precept of reading the Megillah and proclaiming the miracle. So they too perform the precept of reading the Megillah and proclaiming the miracle.36
IF ONE READS IT WITH BREAKS [SERUGIN], HE HAS PERFORMED HIS OBLIGATION. The Rabbis did not know what was meant by serugin,37 until one day they heard the maidservant of Rabbi's household, on seeing the Rabbis enter at intervals, say to them, How long are you going to come in by serugin?
The Rabbis did not know what was meant by haluglugoth, till one day they heard the handmaid of the household of Rabbi, on seeing a man peeling portulaks, say to him, How long will you be peeling your haluglugoth?
The Rabbis did not know what was meant by, salseleah and it shall exalt thee.38 One day they heard the handmaid of the house of Rabbi say to a man who was curling his hair, How long will you be mesalsel with your hair?39
The Rabbis did not know what was meant by, Cast upon the Lord thy yehab and he shall sustain thee.40 Said Rabbah b. Bar Hanah: One day I was travelling with a certain Arab41 and was carrying a load, and he said to me, Lift up your yehab and put it on [one of] the camels.
The Rabbis did not know what was meant by, we-tetethia bematate of destruction,42 till one day they heard the handmaid of the household of Rabbi say to her companion, Take the tatitha [broom] and tati [sweep] the house.
Our Rabbis taught: If one reads it with breaks, he has performed his obligation;
(1) Hos. III, 5.
(2) Mentioned in the next blessing, which commences, ‘Hear our voice .
(3) Isa. LVI, 7.
(4) The next blessing contains the words, ‘Restore the service’.
(6) The next blessing commences, ‘We give thanks to Thee’.
(7) Ps. L, 23.
(8) Lev. IX, 22.
(9) [Omit with MS.M.: ‘For it is written . . . to offer’?].
(10) Which shows that sacrifice is followed immediately by thanksgiving.
(11) Num. VI, 27.
(12) Ps. XXIX, 11.
(13) I.e., it is forbidden to add any more blessings.
(14) Ps. CVI, 2.
(15) Job XXXVII, 20. E.V., ‘Or should a man wish that he were swallowed up’.
(16) Lit., ‘village of warriors’.
(17) Lit., ‘village of a mighty warrior’. [MS.M. has ‘Kefar Naburya’ and ‘Kefar Napor Hayil. The former is identified with en-Nebraten in Upper Galilee, v. Keth., Sonc. ed. p. 391,n. 11].
(18) Ps. LXV, 2. E.V., ‘Praise waiteth for thee’.
(20) Which means both ‘remembering’ and ‘mentioning’.
(21) Esth. IX, 28.
(22) Ex. XVII, 14.
(23) Deut. XXV, 17.
(24) Lit., ‘with the mouth’. So here, the days of Purim must be ‘remembered’ by utterance.
(25) Generally rendered ‘God’; literally, ‘Mighty’.
(26) Gen. XXXIII, 20. E.V., and called it El-Elohe-Israel’.
(27) The language of the Egyptians.
(28) Apparently the reference is to a kind of Aramaic spoken by the Bene Eber, or ‘on the other side’
(be'eber) of the Euphrates.
(29) The last clause of our Mishnah.
(30) I.e., the Coptic-speaking Jews.
(31) That it may be read in a vernacular only for those who speak that vernacular.
(32) Supra 8b.
(33) Esth. IX, 27.
(34) [Read with MS.M.: ‘For should you not say thus’ omitting ‘Rabina strongly demurred to this’].
(35) Ibid. VIII, 10. E.V., ‘that were used in the king's service, bred of the stud’. The words are obviously Persian.
(36) Because they enquire and are told.
(37) The whole of this passage, down to ‘house’ is repeated in R.H. 26b.
(38) Prov. IV, 8. E.V., ‘extol her’.
(39) Which shows that salseleah means ‘turn it about and about’.
(40) Ps. LV, 23. E.V., ‘thy burden’.
(41) [Taya, name of Arab tribe which was applied to all Arabs as a part to a whole].
(42) Isa. XIV, 23. E.V., ‘I will sweep it with the besom of destruction’.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 18b
if with omissions,1 he has not performed it. R. Muna said in the name of R. Judah: Even with breaks, if he stops long enough to finish the whole of it, he must go back to the beginning. R. Joseph said: The halachah is as stated by R. Muna in the name of R. Judah. Abaye inquired of R. Joseph: [When it says] ‘long enough to finish the whole of it’, does it mean from where he is to the end, or from the beginning to the end? He replied: It means from the beginning to the end, as otherwise there would be no fixed standard.2 R. Abba said in the name of R. Jeremiah b. Abba who said it in the name of Rab: The halachah is as stated by R. Muna. Samuel, however, said: The halachah is not as stated by R. Muna. This is the version given in Sura. In Pumbeditha the following version is given: R. Kahana said in the name of Rab: The halachah is as stated by R. Muna, but Samuel said that the halachah does not follow R. Muna. R. Bibi reverses the statement, [making] Rab say that the halachah does not follow R. Muna and Samuel that it does follow R. Muna. R. Joseph said: Adopt3 the version of R. Bibi, since it is Samuel who takes note of the view of an individual authority,4 as we have learnt: ‘If a woman was waiting for the levir [to make his decision], and a [younger] brother of his became affianced to her sister, the rule was laid down in the name of R. Judah b. Bathyra that the Beth din say to him, Wait till your elder brother acts [one way or the other];5 and Samuel said, The halachah is as stated by R. Judah b. Bathyra’.6
Our Rabbis taught: If the scribe had omitted letters or verses and the reader read them like the translator when he is translating,7 he has performed his obligation. The following was cited in objection to this: ‘If letters in it [the scroll] are partially effaced or torn, if they are still legible, it may be used, but otherwise it may not be used’! — There is no contradiction: the one statement8 refers to the whole of it, the other9 to part of it.
Our Rabbis taught: If the reader omitted one verse, he must not say, I will finish reading it [the Megillah] and I will then read that verse, but he must read [again] from that verse. If a man enters the synagogue and finds that the congregation has read half, he must not say, I will read half with the congregation and then I will read the other half, but he must read it from the beginning to the end.
IF HE WAS HALF-ASLEEP, HE HAS PERFORMED HIS OBLIGATION. What is meant by ‘half-asleep’?10 — R. Ashi said: He is asleep and not asleep, awake and not awake; if he is called he responds, but he cannot give a rational answer, though if he is reminded [of what has been said] he remembers.
IF ONE WAS WRITING IT, EXPOUNDING IT, OR CORRECTING IT, IF HE PUT HIS MIND TO IT etc. How are we to understand this? If he was conning each verse and then writing it, what does it matter if he did put his mind to it? He is writing by heart! We must suppose therefore that he writes each verse and then recites it. But does he thereby perform his obligation? Has not R. Helbo said in the name of R. Hama b. Guria who said it in the name of Rab, The halachah follows the view of him who says that all of it [must be recited],11 and even according to the one who says that it is sufficient [to recite] from ‘A Jew was’, it is necessary that the whole should be [already] written? We must suppose therefore that a Megillah lies before him and he reads from it, verse by verse, and then writes. Shall we then12 say that this supports Rabbah b. Bar Hanah, for Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said in the name of R. Johanan. It is forbidden to write one letter [of the Megillah], save from a copy? Perhaps [the Mishnah speaks only of a case] where he just happened [to have a copy before him].13
The text [above states]: ‘Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said in the name of R. Johanan, It is forbidden to write one letter save from a copy’. The following was cited in opposition to this: ‘It happened once that R. Meir went to prolong the year14 in Assia,15 and there was no Megillah there and he wrote one out by heart’! — R. Abbahu said: R. Meir is different, because to him could be applied the verse, Thine eyelids shall look straight before thee.16 Rami b. Hama asked R. Jeremiah from Difti:17 What is the meaning of ‘thine eyelids [‘af'apeka] shall look straight before thee’? — He replied: This refers to the words of the Torah, of which it is written, Wilt thou direct [ta'if] thine eyes from it? it is gone.18 And even so, R. Meir could produce them correctly. R. Hisda found R. Hananel writing scrolls without a copy. He said to him: You are quite qualified to write the whole Torah by heart,19 but thus have the Sages ruled: It is forbidden to write one letter save from a copy. Seeing that he said, ‘You are qualified to write the whole Torah by heart’, we may conclude that he could produce them correctly, and we see that R. Meir actually did write?20 — In case of emergency it is different — Abaye allowed the members of the household of Bar Habu21 to write tefillin and mezuzoth22 without a copy. What authority did he follow? — The following Tanna, as it has been taught: R. Jeremiah says in the name of our Teacher:23 Tefillin and mezuzoth may be written out without a copy, and do not require to be written upon ruled lines. The law, however, is that tefillin do not require lines,24 but mezuzoth do require lines, and both may be written without a copy. What is the reason? — They are well known by heart.
IF IT WAS WRITTEN WITH SAM25 etc. SAM: this is paint. SIKRA: this is vermilion. Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said: It is what we call sekarta [vermilion]. KUMUS: this is gum
(1) So Asheri. Rashi: ‘Backwards’.
(2) Lit., ‘you place your rule at the mercy of different measurements’, according to the amount that still remains to be read.
(3) Lit., ‘take hold of in your hand’.
(4) When he differs from the majority.
(5) I.e., decides either to marry the sister-in-law or to take halizah from her. Otherwise, since the levirate obligation also devolves on the younger brother, he must not marry the sister.
(6) Although the majority of the Rabbis did not agree with him. V. Yeb. 18b.
(7) The Pentateuch into Aramaic in the synagogue, which is done by heart (Rashi). [R. Hananel: Like the translator who paraphrases and adds matter which is not in the text].
(8) That it may not be used.
(9) That it may be read if letters are omitted.
(10) Lit., ‘nodding’.
(11) Infra 19a.
(12) Since the Mishnah cannot be explained in any other way.
(13) And would not insist on the rule laid down by Rabbah b. Bar Hanah.
(14) By intercalating a second Adar.
(15) Probably one of the cities of Asia Minor is meant, v. Sanh., Sonc. ed. p. 151, n. 1.
(16) Prov. IV, 25.
(17) Dibtha below the Tigris S.E. of Babylonia.
(18) I.e if one turns his eyes a moment away from the Torah, he forgets it. Prov. XXIII, 5 E.V., ‘wilt thou set thine eyes upon it’.
(19) Lit., ‘the whole Torah is fitted to be written at thy mouth’.
(20) Then why could not he also?
(21) A vendor of tefillin, v. B.M. 29b.
(22) V. Glos.
(24) V. supra p. 16b.
(25) For this passage. cf. Git., Sonc. ed. p. 70 notes.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 19a
. KANKANTUM: this is bootmakers’ blacking. DIFTERA: this is a skin which has been salted and put in flour but not treated with gall nuts. NEYAR: this is paper.1
IT MUST BE WRITTEN IN HEBREW. As it is written, according to the writing2 thereof, and according to the appointed time thereof.2
ON PARCHMENT AND IN INK. Whence this rule? — We explain writing’ in one place by the use of the term in another. It is written here, And Esther the queen wrote,3 and it is written in another place, then Baruch answered them, He pronounced all these words unto me with his mouth, and I wrote them with ink in the book.4
MISHNAH. A RESIDENT OF A TOWN WHO HAS GONE TO A WALLED CITY5 OR OF A WALLED CITY WHO HAS GONE TO A TOWN, IF HE IS LIKELY TO RETURN TO HIS OWN PLACE6 READS ACCORDING TO THE RULE OF HIS OWN PLACE,7 AND OTHERWISE READS WITH THE REST. FROM WHERE MUST A MAN READ THE MEGILLAH SO AS TO FULFIL HIS OBLIGATION? R. MEIR SAYS, [HE MUST READ] THE WHOLE OF IT; RABBI JUDAH SAYS, [HE MUST READ] FROM ‘THERE WAS A JEW’;8 R. JOSE SAYS, FROM ‘AFTER THESE THINGS’.9
GEMARA. Raba said: This rule applies only if he10 intends to return on the night of the fourteenth; but if he does not mean to return on the night of the fourteenth, he reads with the rest. Said Raba: Whence do I derive this ruling? Because it is written, Therefore do the Jews of the villages that dwell in the unwalled towns.11 See now. It is written, ‘the Jews of the villages’. Why then should it be further written, ‘that dwell in the unwalled towns’? This teaches us that one who is a villager for one day is called12 a villager. We have proved this for a villager. How do we know that it applies also to inhabitants of walled towns? — It is reasonable to suppose that since a villager of one day is called a villager, a walled-city-dweller of one day is called a walled-city-dweller.
Raba also said: A villager who has gone to a town reads with the rest in any case. What is the reason? By rights he ought to read at the same time as the townspeople — and it is the Rabbis who made a concession to the villagers so that they might supply food and drink to their brethren in the large cities.13 Now this applies only so long as they are in their own place, but when they are in the town, they must read like the townspeople. Abaye raised an objection to this from the following: ‘If a resident of a walled city has gone to a town, in any case he reads according to the custom of his own place’. ‘A resident of a walled city’, do you say? His rule depends on whether he means to return!14 What you must read, then, is ‘a villager’.15 — But must you not [in any case] explain [the passage]?16 Read, [then] ‘reads with the rest’.
FROM WHERE MUST A MAN READ THE MEGILLAH etc. It has been taught: R. Simeon b. Yohai says, from On that night’.17 R. Johanan said: All these authorities derived their lesson from the same verse, viz., Then Esther the queen and Mordecai the Jew wrote all the acts of power.18 He who says that the whole Megillah must be read refers this to the power of Ahasuerus;19 he who says it must be read from ‘there was a Jew’, to the power of Mordecai; he who says from ‘after these things’, to the power of Haman; and he who says, from ‘on that night’, to the power of the miracle. R. Huna said: They derived it from here: And what did they see? For this reason. And what came upon them?20 He who says that the whole of it must be read [interprets thus]: What had Ahasuerus seen to make him use the vessels of the Temple? It was for this reason, that he reckoned seventy years and they had not yet been redeemed;21 And what came upon them? that he put Vashti to death. He who says that it should be read from ‘there was a Jew’ [interprets thus]: What had Mordecai seen that he picked a quarrel with Haman? It was for this reason, that he made himself an object of worship. ‘And what came upon them’? that a miracle was performed [for him]. He who says that it is to be read from ‘after these things’, [interprets thus]: What did Haman see to make him pick a quarrel with all the Jews? It was for this reason, that Mordecai did not bow down or prostrate himself; ‘and what came upon him’? They hung him and his sons on the tree. He who says that it is to be read from ‘on that night’ interprets thus: What did Ahasuerus see to make him order the book of chronicles to be brought? It was for this reason that Esther invited Haman with him. ‘And what came upon them’? A miracle was performed for them.
R. Helbo said in the name of R. Hama b. Guria, who said it in the name of Rab: The halachah follows the view of him who says that the whole of it must be read; and even according to him who says that it need be read only from ‘There was a Jew’, it must all be written before him.22
R. Hama b. Guria said in the name of Rab: The Megillah is called ‘book’23 and it is also called ‘letter’.24 It is called ‘book’ to show that if it is stitched with threads of flax,25 it is not fit for use; and it is called ‘letter’ to show that if it is stitched with three threads of sinew, it may be used. R. Nahman said: This is only on condition that they are evenly spaced.26
Rab Judah said in the name of Samuel: If one reads the Megillah from a volume containing the rest of the Scriptures,27 he has not performed his obligation.28 Raba said: This is the case only if it is not a little shorter or longer than the rest, but if it is a little shorter or longer than the rest,29 there is no objection to it. Levi b. Samuel was reading before Rab Judah in a Megillah
(1) Made from papyrus stalk.
(2) Esth. IX, 27.
(3) Ibid. 29.
(4) Jer. XXXVI, 18.
(5) רכך V. supra p. 1 n. 3.
(6) This is explained in the Gemara.
(7) I.e., on the fourteenth if he belongs to a town, on the fifteenth if to a city.
(8) Esth. II, 5.
(9) Ibid. III, 1.
(10) According to Rashi, this applies only to the man from the walled city who went to a town; but according to Asheri, even if a man from a town went to a walled city and stayed there over the night of the fourteenth, even if he returns to his own place on the fourteenth, he reads on the fifteenth and not on the fourteenth.
(11) Ibid. IX, 19.
(12) I.e., comes under the rule of.
(13) V. supra. 2a.
(14) As laid down explicitly in the Mishnah.
(15) And this would contradict the statement of Raba.
(16) By showing that the reading should be changed.
(17) Esth. VI,1
(18) Ibid. IX, 29.
(19) Who is mentioned at the very beginning.
(20) Ibid. 26. I.e., this is the subject-matter of the Megillah, as explained presently. E.V., ‘And of that which they had seen concerning the matter’.
(21) V. supra 11b.
(22) I.e., he must have a complete copy, even if he does not read the whole of it.
(23) Esth. IX, 32.
(24) Ibid. 26.
(25) According to one authority in Mak. 11a a sefer torah must be stitched with sinews.
(26) Lit., ‘trebled’, i.e., placed at equal distances from one another and from the top and bottom.
(27) Lit., ‘written among the writings’.
(28) Because he does not thereby sufficiently proclaim the miracle.
(29) So that it is recognizable as a separate book.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 19b
which was included in a volume of the Scriptures. He said to him: [I must tell you that] they have said: ‘If one reads the Megillah from a volume containing the rest of the Scriptures, he has not fulfilled his obligation’.
R. Hiyya b. Abba said in the name of R. Johanan: ‘If one reads the Megillah in a volume containing the rest of the Scriptures, he has not fulfilled his obligation’; and he at once qualified this remark1 by adding, ‘in a congregation’.
R. Hiyya b. Abba also said in the name of R. Johanan: It is a rule deriving from Moses at Sinai that a space should be left unstitched [in the sefer torah];2 and he at once qualified the remark by saying, ‘this rule was laid down3 only so that it should not be torn’.4
R. Hiyya b. Abba also said in the name of R. Johanan: Had there been in the cave in which Moses and Elijah stood5 a chink no bigger than the eye of a fine needle, they would not have been able to endure the light, as it says, for man shall not see me and live.6
R. Hiyya b. Abba also said in the name of R. Johanan: What is the meaning of the verse, And on them was written according to all the words which the Lord spoke with you in the mount?7 It teaches us that the Holy One, blessed be He, showed Moses the minutiae of the Torah,8 and the minutiae of the Scribes,9 and the innovations which would be introduced by the Scribes; and what are these? The reading of the Megillah.10
MISHNAH. ALL ARE QUALIFIED TO READ THE MEGILLAH EXCEPT A DEAF PERSON,11 AN IMBECILE AND A MINOR.12 R. JUDAH DECLARES A MINOR QUALIFIED.
GEMARA. Who is the Tanna that maintains that [even if] the deaf person has read, it does not count?13 — R. Mattenah said: It is R. Jose, as we have learnt: ‘If one reads the Shema’ inaudibly, he has performed his obligation. R. Jose, however, says that he has not performed his obligation’. But why should we say that [our Mishnah] follows R. Jose and [lays down that] even if the deaf man has read, it does not count? Perhaps it follows R. Judah, and [what it means is that] the deaf man may not read in the first instance, but if he has read, his reading is accepted? — Do not imagine such a thing. For a deaf man is mentioned in the same category as an imbecile and a minor; just as the reading of an imbecile and a minor is not accepted, so the reading of a deaf man is not accepted. But perhaps there is one rule for the one and another rule for the other? — Since it states in the final clause that R. Judah declares a minor qualified, we may conclude that the first clause does not state the opinion of R. Judah. (But perhaps the whole of the Mishnah states the opinions of R. Judah? — Is it possible that he should disqualify in the first and permit in the second?)14 But perhaps the whole [of the Mishnah] gives the views of R. Judah, and he speaks of two kinds of minor, and there is an omission in the Mishnah, and it should run this: ‘All are qualified to read the Megillah, except a deaf man, an imbecile and a minor. Of what kind of minor are we speaking? Of one who is not old enough to be trained in the performance of religious duties. But a minor who is old enough to be trained in religious duties15 may read even in the first instance, since R. Judah declares a minor qualified! — How then have you explained [the first clause of the Mishnah]? As following R. Judah and applying to an action already performed. What then of this statement made by Judah the son of R. Simeon b. Pazzi: ‘One who can speak but not hear may set aside terumah in the first instance.’16 Whose view is this? If you say R. Judah's. [this cannot be, because] he would say, his blessing [once made] is a blessing, but he may not say it in the first instance. If you say R. Jose, this also cannot be, since he disallows the action even if already performed! What then will you say? That it follows R. Judah, and that he allows it even in the first instance?17 What then of this which has been taught: ‘A man should not say the grace after food in his heart,18 but if he does do so, he has performed his obligation’. Whose opinion is this? It is neither that of R. Judah19 nor that of R. Jose. For if it were to follow R. Judah, it would allow this even in the first instance, and if R. Jose, it would disallow it even when performed! —
(1) Lit., ‘he struck it on the head’.
(2) I.e., the parchment sheets of which the scroll is composed should not be stitched together right to the top and right to the bottom.
(3) Lit., ‘they said’, i.e.,the Sages. It was not derived from Moses at Sinai.
(4) Since if it is pulled violently it will give a little and the sheets will not come asunder.
(5) According to tradition, the cave in which Elijah stood when the Lord passed before him was the same as that in which Moses had stood on a similar occasion.
(6) Ex. XXXIII, 20.
(7) Deut. IX, 10.
(8) Minute indications upon which homiletical lessons are based, e.g.. the words אב and רק
(9) Inferences drawn by the Scribes from minute indications in the earlier Mishnahs.
(10) The ‘men of the Great Synagogue’ who are supposed to have written the Megillah are also numbered among the ‘Scribes’ (Soferim) by the Talmud.
(11) Because it is necessary for one who reads the Megillah to hear what he is saying.
(12) One under thirteen years of age.
(13) Lit., ‘not even if (the thing) is done’.
(14) The passage in brackets is omitted by Rashi as breaking the connection.
(15) I.e., nine or ten years old, v. Yoma 82a.
(16) Although he has to say a blessing which he cannot hear.
(17) And the Mishnah does not follow R. Judah.
(18) I.e., inaudibly.
(19) According to the latest version of his opinion.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 20a
In fact it follows R. Judah,1 and he holds that the act may be done even in the first instance, and there is no difficulty: in the first quotation2 he is giving his own opinion, in the second3 that of his teacher, as it has been taught: ‘R. Judah says in the name of R. Eleazar b. Azariah: One who recites the Shema’ must do so audibly, as it says, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is One,4 which implies. ‘Let thine ear hear what thy mouth utters’. R. Meir says: [It says], which I command thee this day upon thy heart:5 according to the concentration of the mind, so is the value of the words. Now that you have come so far as this,6 you may even say that R. Judah was of the same opinion as his teacher, and the statement made by Judah the son of R. Simeon b. Pazzi follows R. Meir.
R. JUDAH DECLARES A MINOR QUALIFIED. It has been taught: ‘R. Judah said: When I was a boy, I read it [the Megillah] before R. Tarfon and the elders in Lydda. They said to him: A proof cannot be adduced from a recollection of boyhood’.7 It has been taught: ‘Rabbi said: When a boy, I read it before R. Judah. They said to him: A proof cannot be adduced from the very authority who allows [the act]’.8 Why did they not say to him, A proof cannot be adduced from recollections of boyhood? They gave him a double answer.9 For one thing, they said, you were a boy and besides, even had you been grown up, proof cannot be brought from the very authority who allows.
MISHNAH. THE MEGILLAH SHOULD NOT BE READ, NEITHER SHOULD CIRCUMCISION BE PERFORMED, NOR A RITUAL BATH BE TAKEN,10 NOR SPRINKLING11 BE PERFORMED, AND SIMILARLY A WOMAN KEEPING DAY FOR DAY12 SHOULD NOT TAKE A RITUAL BATH UNTIL THE SUN HAS RISEN. BUT IF ANY OF THESE THINGS IS DONE AFTER DAWN HAS APPEARED,13 IT COUNTS AS DONE.
GEMARA. Whence this rule [about the Megillah]? — Because the Scripture says, and these days should be remembered [mentioned] and kept,14 which implies, that they are to be so by day, but not by night. Shall we say that this is a refutation of R. Joshua b. Levi; for R. Joshua b. Levi said: It is a man's duty to read the Megillah by night and a second time by day? — When the Mishnah makes this statement it is referring to the day reading.
NEITHER SHOULD CIRCUMCISION BE PERFORMED. Because it is written, And on the eighth day he shall be circumcised.15
NEITHER SHOULD A RITUAL BATH BE TAKEN NOR SPRINKLING BE PERFORMED. Because it is written, And the clean person shall sprinkle on the unclean . . . and on the seventh day:16 and bathing17 is put on the same footing as sprinkling.
AND SIMILARLY A WOMAN WHO IS KEEPING DAY FOR DAY SHOULD NOT TAKE A RITUAL BATH TILL THE SUN HAS RISEN. This is obvious! Why should a woman keeping day for day be different from all others who are under obligation to take ritual baths?18 — Her case had to be mentioned. For you might suppose that she should be on the same footing as the first observation of one with an issue, and the first observation of one with an issue has been put on the same footing as one with a seminal issue, as it is written, This is the law of him that hath an issue and of him from whom the flow of seed goeth out:19 just as one with a seminal issue takes his bath by day, so this one also should take his bath on the same day. This woman, however, cannot bathe on the day, because it is written, all the days of the issue of her uncleanness she shall be as in the days of her impurity;20 so [you might say], by night at least she might keep watch for a short time21 and then bathe; therefore we are told that [she must not do this], because she requires to count [day for day];22
(1) And our Mishnah in the first clause follows R. Jose.
(2) Referring to the blessing over terumah.
(3) Referring to grace after meals
(4) Deut. VI, 4.
(5) Ibid. 6.
(6) To inform us of the difference between R. Judah and R. Meir.
(7) Lit., ‘from a boy’.
(8) Seeing that the majority disagree with him.
(9) Lit., ‘they answered him (in the form of) one thing and yet another’.
(10) For defilement through a dead body (Num. XIX, 17ff) or through an issue (Lev. XV, 15). So Rashi. Tosaf., however, points out that, according to other passages in the Talmud, it is very doubtful if this is the rule, and therefore renders, ‘the hyssop (for sprinkling) should not be dipped’, v. Num. XIX, 11-12.
(11) Of the waters of purification on one who has touched a dead body.
(12) V. supra p. 44, n. 4.
(13) [Lit.. ‘after the going up of the pillar of the morning’; the first streaks of light visible about 1 1/5 hours before sunrise, v. Maim. Commentary on Ber. I. 1].
(14) Esth. IX, 28.
(15) Lev. XII, 3.
(16) Num. XIX, 19.
(17) V. n. 1.
(18) If we accept the explanation of Tosaf. we must suppose this to refer not to the Mishnah but to mean, ‘why should this one be specified rather than any others who have to take ritual baths and who must bathe by day’.
(19) Lev. XV, 32.
(20) Ibid. 25. This shows that she must wait till the day is over. The verse refers to a woman who is keeping day for day.
(21) To make sure that she has no further issue.
(22) Cf. notes supra 3 and 11.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 20b
and counting must be by day.1
IF ANY OF THESE THINGS IS DONE AFTER DAWN HAS APPEARED, IT COUNTS AS DONE. Whence is this rule derived? — Raba said: Because the Scripture says, And God called the light day;2 that which gradually becomes light He called day.3 But according to this, [when it says] and the darkness He called night,4 [are we to explain] that which gradually becomes dark He called night? Is it not generally agreed that till the stars come out it is not night? No, said R. Zera; we derive it from here: So we wrought in the work; and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared;5 and it says further, that in the night they may be a guard to us, and may labour in the day.6 What is the point of the second quotation?7 — You might say that from the time of the first rising of the dawn it is not yet day, though from the time the sun begins to set it is already night and they were early and late.8 Therefore come and hear: that in the night they may be a guard to us, and may labour in the day.9
MISHNAH. THE WHOLE OF THE DAY IS A PROPER TIME FOR THE READING OF THE MEGILLAH AND FOR THE RECITING OF HALLEL10 AND FOR THE BLOWING OF THE SHOFAR10 AND FOR TAKING UP THE LULAB10 AND FOR THE MUSAF10 PRAYER AND FOR THE ADDITIONAL SACRIFICES11 AND FOR CONFESSION OVER THE OXEN12 AND FOR THE ACKNOWLEDGMENT MADE OVER THE TITHE13 AND FOR THE CONFESSION OF SINS ON THE DAY OF ATONEMENT,14 FOR LAYING ON OF HANDS,15 FOR SLAUGHTERING [THE SACRIFICES], FOR WAVING,16 FOR BRINGING NEAR [THE VESSEL WITH THE MEAL-OFFERING TO THE ALTAR], FOR TAKING A HANDFUL, AND FOR PLACING IT ON THE FIRE,17 FOR PINCHING OFF [THE HEAD OF A BIRD-OFFERING]18 AND FOR RECEIVING THE BLOOD,19 AND FOR SPRINKLING,20 AND FOR MAKING THE UNFAITHFUL WIFE DRINK21 AND FOR BREAKING THE NECK OF THE HEIFER22 AND FOR PURIFYING THE LEPER.23 THE WHOLE OF THE NIGHT IS PROPER TIME FOR REAPING THE OMER,24 AND FOR BURNING FAT AND LIMBS [ON THE ALTAR].25 THIS IS THE GENERAL PRINCIPLE: ANY COMMANDMENT WHICH IS TO BE PERFORMED BY DAY MAY BE PERFORMED DURING THE WHOLE OF THE DAY, AND ANY COMMANDMENT WHICH IS TO BE PERFORMED BY NIGHT MAY BE PERFORMED DURING THE WHOLE OF THE NIGHT.
GEMARA. Whence this rule [about the Megillah]? — Because the Scripture says, And these days shall be mentioned and kept.26
FOR READING THE HALLEL: as it is written, From the rising of the sun to its going down.27 R. Joseph says: Because it is written, this is the day on which the Lord hath wrought.28
FOR THE TAKING UP OF THE LULAB: as it is written, And ye shall take you on the first day.29
FOR THE BLOWING OF THE SHOFAR, as it is written, it is a day of blowing the horn unto you.30
FOR THE ADDITIONAL SACRIFICES, as it is written, each on its own day.31
AND FOR THE MUSAF PRAYER: because the Rabbis put this on the same footing as the additional sacrifices.
AND FOR THE CONFESSION MADE OVER THE OXEN, an analogy being drawn between the ‘atonement’ mentioned in this connection and that mentioned in connection with the Day of Atonement, as it has been taught in reference to the Day of Atonement: ‘And he shall make atonement for himself and for his house:32 the text speaks of atonement made by words. And atonement is by day, as it is written, For on this day shall atonement be made for you.33
AND FOR THE ACKNOWLEDGMENT MADE OVER THE TITHE: as it is written, And thou shalt say before the Lord thy God, I have put away the hallowed things out of my house,34 and in the same context it says, This day the Lord thy God commandeth thee.35
FOR LAYING ON OF HANDS AND FOR SLAUGHTERING: as it is written, and he shall lay his hand . . . and he shall kill,36 and it is written in connection with killing, on the same day that ye sacrifice.37
AND FOR WAVING: as it is written, and in the day when ye wave the sheaf.38
AND FOR BRINGING NEAR; because this is compared to waving, as it is written, And the priest shall take the meal-offering of jealousy out of the woman's hand, and shall wave the meal-offering . . . and bring it near39 [to the altar].
AND FOR PINCHING AND FOR TAKING A HANDFUL AND FOR BURNING AND FOR SPRINKLING, as it is written, in the day that he commanded the children of Israel [to present their offerings].40
AND FOR MAKING THE UNFAITHFUL WIFE DRINK: The word ‘law’ which occurs in this connection is explained by its use in another.41 It is written here, and the priest shall execute upon her all this law,42 and it is written elsewhere, According to the law which they shall teach thee and according to the judgement43
(1) As it says, And she shall count seven days. Ibid. 28.
(2) Gen. I, 5.
(3) Which shows that from dawn may be called day.
(5) Neh. IV, 15.
(6) Ibid. 16.
(7) Lit., ‘what is "and it says"’.
(8) I.e., started before day and finished after nightfall.
(9) Which shows that all the time during which they laboured was called day.
(10) V. Glos.
(11) On Sabbath or Festivals. V. Num. XXVIII-IX.
(12) Brought as a sin-offering for a sin committed unwittingly by the High Priest or by the congregation. V. Lev. IV.
(13) V. Deut. XXVI, 12-15.
(14) V. Lev. XVI.
(15) V. e.g., Lev. I, 4, III, 2.
(16) E.g., the breast of the peace-offering. V. Lev. VII, 30.
(17) From the meal-offering. V. Lev. II, 2.
(18) V. Lev. I, 15.
(19) Of the slaughtered animal in a vessel.
(20) The blood on the altar.
(21) The bitter waters. V. Num. V, 24.
(22) As atonement for an unpunished murder. V. Deut. XXI, 1-9.
(23) V. Lev. XIV.
(24) Lev. XXIII, 10-11.
(25) V. Lev VI, 2.
(26) Esth. IX, 28.
(27) Ps. CXIII, 3.
(28) Ibid. CXVIII, 24.
(29) Lev. XXIII, 40.
(30) Num. XXIX, 1.
(31) Lev. XXIII, 37.
(32) Ibid. XVI, 6.
(33) Ibid. 30.
(34) Deut. XXVI, 13.
(35) Ibid. 16.
(36) Lev. I, 4, 5.
(37) Ibid. XIX, 6.
(38) Ibid. XXIII, 12.
(39) Num. V, 25.
(40) Lev. VII, 38. and all these ceremonies constitute the presenting of the offering.
(41) Lit., ‘There comes along "law", "law"’.
(42) Num. V, 30.
(43) Deut. XVII, 11.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 21a
: just as judgement is by day,1 so here it must be by day.
AND FOR BREAKING THE NECK OF THE HEIFER. In the school of R. Jannai it was said: [The word] ‘atonement’ is applied to it2 as to holy things.
AND FOR THE PURIFICATION OF THE LEPER: as it is written, This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing.3
THE WHOLE NIGHT IS A PROPER TIME FOR REAPING THE ‘OMER. Since a Master has said that reaping and counting are to be performed by night and the bringing by day.4
AND FOR BURNING FAT AND LIMBS: as it is written, All the night till the morning.5
THIS IS THE GENERAL PRINCIPLE: ANY COMMANDMENT THAT IS TO BE PERFORMED BY DAY CAN BE PERFORMED DURING THE WHOLE OF THE DAY. [The words] ‘this is the general principle’ are inserted to add what? — To add the setting of the cup6 and the removal of the cups, and in agreement with R. Jose, as it has been taught: ‘R. Jose says: If he removed the old [shew-bread] in the morning and set the new one in the evening, there is no harm.7 What then do I make of the verse, before me continually?8 [This is to show that] the table of the Lord should not be without bread.9
A COMMANDMENT WHICH IS TO BE PERFORMED BY NIGHT MAY BE PERFORMED DURING THE WHOLE OF THE NIGHT. What does this add? — It adds the consumption of the paschal lamb, thus differing from R. Eleazar b. Azariah, as it has been taught: And they shall eat the flesh on that night:10 R. Eleazar b. Azariah said: It says here, on that night, and it says elsewhere, And I shall pass through the land of Egypt on that night:11 just as there up to midnight [is meant], so here up to midnight [is meant].
MISHNAH. HE WHO READS THE MEGILLAH MAY DO SO EITHER STANDING OR SITTING. WHETHER ONE READS IT OR TWO READ IT [TOGETHER] THEY [THE CONGREGATION] HAVE PERFORMED THEIR OBLIGATION. IN PLACES WHERE IT IS THE CUSTOM TO SAY A BLESSING,12 IT SHOULD BE SAID, AND WHERE IT IS NOT THE CUSTOM IT NEED NOT BE SAID.
ON MONDAYS AND THURSDAYS AND ON SABBATH AT MINHAH,13 THREE READ FROM THE TORAH, NEITHER MORE NOR LESS, NOR IS A HAFTARAH14 HEAD FROM A PROPHET. THE ONE WHO READS15 FIRST IN THE TORAH16 AND THE ONE WHO READS LAST17 MAKE [RESPECTIVELY] A BLESSING BEFORE READING AND AFTER.18 ON NEW MOONS AND ON THE INTERMEDIATE DAYS OF FESTIVALS FOUR READ, NEITHER MORE NOR LESS, AND THERE IS NO HAFTARAH FROM A PROPHET. THE ONE WHO READS FIRST AND THE ONE WHO READS LAST IN THE TORAH MAKE A BLESSING BEFORE AND AFTER. THIS IS THE GENERAL RULE: ON ANY DAY WHICH HAS A MUSAF16 AND IS NOT A FESTIVAL FOUR READ; ON A FESTIVAL FIVE READ; ON THE DAY OF ATONEMENT SIX READ; ON SABBATH SEVEN READ; THIS NUMBER MAY NOT BE DIMINISHED BUT IT MAY BE ADDED TO, AND A HAFTARAH IS READ FROM A PROPHET. THE ONE WHO READS FIRST AND THE ONE WHO READS LAST IN THE TORAH MAKE A BLESSING BEFORE AND AFTER.
GEMARA. A Tanna stated: ‘This [that one may read sitting] is not the case with the Torah’.19 Whence this rule? — R. Abbahu said: Because Scripture says, But as for thee, stand thou here by me.20 R. Abbahu also said: Were it not written in the Scripture, it would be impossible for us to say it: as it were, the Holy One, blessed be He, also was standing.21
R. Abbahu further said: How do we know that the master should not sit on a couch and teach his disciples while they sit on the ground? Because it says, ‘But as for thee, do thou stand here by me.22
Our Rabbis taught: From the days of Moses up to Rabban Gamaliel, the Torah was learnt only standing. When Rabban Gamaliel died, feebleness descended on the world, and they learnt the Torah sitting; and so we have learnt that ‘from the time that Rabban Gamaliel died, [full] honour ceased to be paid to the Torah’.
One verse says, And I sat [wa-esheb] in the mount,23 and another verse says, And I stood in the mount.24 — Rab says: He [Moses] stood when he learnt and sat while he went over [what he had learnt]. R. Hanina said: He was neither sitting nor standing, but stooping. R. Johanan said: ‘Sitting’ [yosheb] here means only ‘staying’, as it says, And ye stayed [teshbu] in Kadesh many days.25 Raba said: The easy things [he learnt] standing and the hard ones sitting.
WHETHER ONE READS IT OR TWO READ IT, THEY HAVE PERFORMED THEIR OBLIGATION.
(1) V. Sanh. 34b.
(2) ‘And the blood shall be atoned unto them’. Deut. XXI, 8.
(3) Lev. XIV, 2.
(4) This is deduced from scriptural texts in Men. 66a.
(5) Ibid. VI, 2.
(6) Containing the frankincense for the shewbread.
(7) [Rashi reads, ‘also this is (termed) ‘continually’].
(8) Lev. XXIV, 3.
(9) [Var lec. ‘Should not be overnight without bread’.]
(10) Ex. XII, 8.
(11) Ibid. 12.
(12) After the reading. V. infra.
(13) V. Glos. On these three occasions the first section of the Sedra (portion) of the following Sabbath is read.
(14) V. Glos. [Lit., ‘we do not dismiss (the public) with (a reading from) a prophet’, the haftarah having originally formed the concluding part of the morning service Saturdays and Festivals when the worshippers were dismissed to their homes. V. Buchler JQR VI, p. 7].
(15) Lit., ‘he who opens’, ‘begins’.
(16) V. Glos.
(17) Lit., ‘he who seals’, ‘closes’.
(18) V. infra p. 130.
(19) Referring to the public reading of the Law.
(20) Deut. V, 28.
(21) Because it says, by (lit., ‘with’) me.
(22) And God was to Moses in the relation of master to pupil.
(23) Deut. IX, 9; v. Sot. 49a.
(24) Ibid. X, 10.
(25) Ibid. I, 46.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 21b
A Tanna stated: This is not the case with [the public reading of] the Torah.
Our Rabbis taught: As regards the Torah, one reads and one translates,1 and in no case must one read and two translate [together]. As regards the Prophets, one reads and two may translate, but in no case may two read and two translate. As regards Hallel and the Megillah,2 even ten may read [and ten may translate].3 What is the reason? Since the people like it,4 they pay attention and hear.5
WHERE IT IS THE CUSTOM TO SAY A BLESSING, IT SHOULD BE SAID. Abaye said: This rule applies only to the blessing after the reading, but before the reading it is a religious duty to say a blessing, since Rab Judah said in the name of Samuel: ‘Over the performance of all religious precepts a blessing is said as one passes on [‘ober] to perform them’. How can you prove that this ‘passing on means ‘just in front of’? — R. Nahman b. Isaac said: Scripture says, Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain and overran [wa-ya'abor] the Cushite.6 Abaye said: We prove it from here: And he himself passed over before them.7 Or, if you prefer, I can prove it from here: And their king is passed on before them and the Lord at the head of them.8
What blessing is said before the reading of the Megillah? — R. Shesheth from Kateriza happened [once to read] in the presence of R. Ashi, and he made the blessings M'N'H’.9 What blessing is said after it? — ‘Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, [the God]10 who espoused our quarrel and vindicated our cause and executed our vengeance and punished our adversaries for us and visited retribution on all the enemies of our soul. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who avenges Israel on all their enemies’. Raba Says: [The concluding words are], ‘The God who saves. R. Papa said: Therefore we should say both: ‘Blessed art thou, O Lord, who avenges Israel on all their enemies, the God who saves’.
ON MONDAYS AND THURSDAYS AND ON SABBATH AT MINHAH THREE READ. What do these three represent? — R. Assi said: The Pentateuch, the Prophets and the Hagiographa. Raba said: Priests, Levites, and lay Israelites. But now, in the statement of R. Shimi, ‘Not less than ten verses [of the Torah] should be read in the synagogue, the verse ‘and [God] spoke to [Moses saying]’ being counted as one’,11 — what do these ten represent? — R.Joshua b. Levi said: The ten men of leisure in the synagogue.12 R. Joseph said: The ten commandments which were given to Moses on Sinai.
(R. Levi said: The ten times hallel [praise] which David uttered in the book of Psalms.)13 R. Johanan said: The ten utterances with which the world was created.14 What are these? The expressions ‘And [God] said’ in the first chapter of Genesis.15 But there are only nine? — The words ‘In the beginning’ are also a [creative] utterance, since it is written, By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.16
Raba said: If the first reads four verses17 he is to be commended; if the second reads four verses18 he is to be commended; if the third reads four verses he is to be commended. ‘If the first reads four verses he is to be commended’, as we have learnt: ‘There were three bags holding three se'ahs19 each, in which the priests take up the money-offerings out of the [shekel] chamber,20 and they were labelled Aleph, Beth, Gimel,21 so as to show which was taken out first, so that sacrifices could be brought from that one first, since it is a religious duty to offer from the first. ‘If the middle one reads four verses, he is to be commended’, as it has been taught: ‘[The seven lamps] shall give light in front of the candlestick;22 this teaches that they were made to face the western lamp23 and the western lamp faced the Shechinah; and R. Johanan said: This shows that the middle one is specially prized’. ‘If the last reads four verses he is to be commended’: because of the principle that ‘in dealing with holy things we promote but never degrade’.24 R. Papa was once in the synagogue of Abe Gobar,25 when the first one [who was called up] read four verses, and R. Papa commended him.
NEITHER LESS NOR MORE [etc.]. A Tanna stated: The one who reads first makes a blessing before the reading, and the one who reads last makes a blessing after it. Nowadays that all make a blessing both before and after the reading, the reason is that the Rabbis ordained this to avoid error on the part of people entering and leaving synagogue.26
ON NEW MOONS AND ON THE INTERMEDIATE DAYS OF THE FESTIVAL FOUR READ. ‘Ulla b. Rab enquired of Raba: How is the portion of New Moon27 to be divided? [The paragraph commencing] ‘command the children of Israel and say to them’28 has eight verses. How are we to deal with them? Shall two persons read three verses each? Then two verses will be left [to the end of the paragraph], and it is not proper to leave over less than three verses to the end of the paragraph.29 Shall two read four verses each? Then seven verses will be left altogether, [the paragraph beginning] ‘and on the sabbath day’30 being two, and [the paragraph beginning] ‘and on your new moons’31 being five. How are we to do? Shall we read [as one portion] two from one paragraph and one from the next?
(1) I.e., reads the Aramaic Targum.
(2) V. Glos.
(3) Rashi omits these words on the ground that there is no Targum to the Hagiographa. Tosaf., however, points out that there is such a Targum, though it is not attributed to Jonathan b. Uzziel; v. supra 3a.
(4) Lit., ‘it is beloved’.
(5) Even though many are speaking together.
(6) II Sam. XVIII, 23.
(7) Gen. XXXIII, 3, of Jacob and his family before Esau.
(8) Micah II, 13.
(9) M = Mikra (or Megillah), over the reading of the Megillah; N = Nissim, the blessing for miracles; H = she-heheyanu
(or Hayyim, life) ‘who has kept us alive to this day’.
(10) This word is omitted by Alfasi and Asheri.
(11) Although it is a recurring introductory formula.
(12) Every community was required to have ten men who had leisure always to attend synagogue when required. V. supra p. 21, n. 9.
(13) This is bracketed in the text, and is omitted by Bah and MS.M. [This number is exceeded many times in the Book of Psalms and applies to Psalm CL by itself (v. R.H. 32a) hence, the omission].
(14) V. Aboth V, 1.
(15) Lit., ‘in "In the beginning"’.
(16) Ps. XXXIII, 6. The creation of ‘Heavens’ and ‘the host of them’ (the earth) is mentioned in the first verse of Genesis.
(17) Out of the obligatory ten read on weekdays.
(18) If the first has read only three, or even if he has read four.
(19) V. Glos.
(20) Shekels brought by the public for purchasing the congregational sacrifices.
(21) V. Shek. 5a.
(22) Num. VIII, 2.
(23) According to one opinion, this was the middle lamp of the candlestick; according to another, the one second from the western end. R. Johanan evidently adopted the first opinion.
(24) Hence the religious service of the last should be at least equal to that of those who preceded him.
(25) [Or, Be Gobar, near Mahuza, v. Obermeyer p. 178. This synagogue is also mentioned in Ber. 50a and Ta'an. 26a].
(26) People who come in after the reading has commenced, on seeing a fresh person commence to read without saying a blessing, might think that no blessing is necessary before the reading. Similarly, those who leave before the reading is concluded might think that no blessing at all is necessary after the reading.
(27) Which consists of three paragraphs of eight, two and five verses. Num. XXVIII, 1-15.
(28) Ibid. 1-8.
(29) V. infra. פרשה A ‘paragraph’ is a section at the end of which a blank space is left in the Scroll.
(30) Ibid. 9, 10.
(31) Ibid. 11-15.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 22a
[This is not right], since we do not read less than three verses together at the beginning of a paragraph.1 Shall the reader read two from one and three from the other? Then only two verses are left [to the end of the second paragraph]! — He replied: On this point I have not heard [any pronouncement], but I have learnt the rule in a somewhat similar case, as we have learnt: ‘On Sundays, [the ma'amad2 read the paragraph] "In the beginning" and "let there be a firmament",3 and to this a gloss was added, "In the beginning" is read by two and "let there be a firmament" by one’, and we were somewhat perplexed by this. For that [the paragraph] ‘let there be a firmament’ can be read by one we understand, since it has three verses, but how can ‘In the beginning, be read by two, seeing that it has only five verses, and it has been taught, ‘He who reads in the Torah should not read less than three verses’? And it was stated [in answer] to this [question] that Rab says he should repeat,4 and Samuel says he should divide a verse. Rab said he should repeat. Why should he not say ‘divide’? — He was of opinion that any verse which Moses had not divided, we may not divide, whereas Samuel held that we may divide. But surely, R. Hananiah the Bible teacher5 said, I was in great pain in the house of R. Hanina the great, and he would not allow me to make [additional verse] divisions save for the school children, because they are there to be taught? — Now what was the reason there [why he was allowed to make divisions]? Because it could not be avoided; here6 too it cannot be avoided. Samuel said that he divides. Why did he not say that he repeats? It is a precaution to prevent error on the part of those coming in and going out.7
An objection [against both these views]8 was brought from the following: ‘A section of six verses may be read by two persons, a section of five verses must be read by one. If the first reads three verses, the second reads the remaining two from this section and one from the next; some, however, say that he reads three from the next, because not less than three verses should be read at the beginning of a section’.9 Now if it is as you said,10 then according to the one who says he should repeat, let him repeat, and according to the one who says he should divide, let him divide? — It is different here,11 because this method is open to him.12
R. Tanhum, said in the name of R. Joshua b. Levi: The halachah follows the alternative opinion13 mentioned.
R. Tanhum also said in the name of R. Joshua b. Levi: Just as at the beginning of a section not less than three verses should be read, so at the end of a section not less than three verses should be left. Surely this is obvious! Seeing that in regard to the beginning of a section where the First Tanna is not so strict the alternative opinion is strict, is it not certain that in regard to the verses left [at the end of the section] where the First Tanna is strict the alternative opinion will also be strict? — You might argue that it is usual for people to come in [to synagogue during the reading of the law],14 but it is not usual for them to go out and leave the scroll of the law while it is being read;15 therefore we are told [that we do not argue thus]. But now with regard to the First Tanna: Why does he forbid [less than three verses] to be left [at the end of the section]? On account of people going out of synagogue,16 is it not? Then with regard to the beginning also he should take precautions on account of people coming in? — I can answer that a person coming in enquires [how much has been read].17
Rabbah the son of Raba sent to enquire of R. Joseph: What is the law?18 He sent him back word: The law is that the verse is repeated, and it is a middle reader19 who repeats.
THIS IS THE GENERAL RULE: WHENEVER THERE IS A MUSAF etc. The question was raised: How many read on a public fast day?20 Shall we say that on New Moon and the intermediate days of the festival when there is an additional sacrifice four read, but here where there is no additional sacrifice this is not the case? Or shall we argue that here also there is an additional prayer?21 — Come and hear: ON NEW MOONS AND ON THE INTERMEDIATE DAYS OF FESTIVALS FOUR READ’, from which we conclude that on public fasts only three read. Look now at the preceding clause: ‘ON MONDAYS AND THURSDAYS AND ON SABBATH AT MINHAH THREE READ’, from which we may conclude that on a public fast four read! The truth is that we cannot decide from here.
Come then and hear [this]: ‘Rab happened to be at Babylon22 during a public fast. He came forward and read in the scroll of the law. Before commencing he made a blessing but after finishing he made no blessing. The whole congregation [afterwards] fell on their faces,23 but Rab did not fall on his face’. Let us now see. Rab read as a lay Israelite.24 Why then did he say no blessing after finishing? Was it not because another was to read after him? — No. Rab read as kohen,25 for R. Huna also read as kohen.26 I can understand R. Huna reading as kohen, because even R. Assi and R. Ammi who were distinguished kohanim of Eretz Israel showed deference to R. Huna.27 But as to Rab there was Samuel [his Babylonian contemporary] who was a kohen and who took precedence of him?28 — Samuel also showed deference to Rab, and it was Rab29 who of his own accord paid him special honour30 and this he did only in his presence, but not when he was not present. It is reasonable also to assume that Rab read as kohen, because if you presume that he read as a layman, why did he say a blessing before reading? — It was after the regulation31 had been made. If so, he should have said a blessing after reading also? — Where Rab was present there was a difference, because people came in [late]
(1) V. infra.
(2) V. Glos.
(3) Gen. I, 1-5, and 6-8; v. Ta'an. 26a.
(4) The last verse read by the predecessor. Lit., ‘skip’, ‘go back’.
(5) Heb. קרא, a Bible teacher who appears to have been also a professional reader of the Scripture, with proper vowels, stops and accents, as the tanna (v. Glos. s.v.) was a professional memorizer of the Mishnah or Baraitha.
(6) In the readings of the ma'amad.
(7) V. supra p. 132, n. 3.
(8) Of Rab and Samuel.
(9) V. Ta'an 27b.
(10) That he either divides or repeats.
(11) Which deals with the Biblical reading on Mondays and Thursdays.
(12) Whereas on New Moon the next paragraph deals with a different subject and therefore cannot be read.
(13) Lit., ‘the "some say"’; viz., that three verses are read from the next paragraph.
(14) And therefore, if they hear only the first verse of a section read, may not know that at least three verses have been read.
(15) And therefore, even if only one verse of a section is left, they will see that three are read.
(16) Who might think that if two verses to the end of a section had been left by a reader at the point when he went out, only those two will have been read by the next reader. Cf. n. 7.
(17) Supposing he finds when he comes in that someone reads three verses beginning from the third verse of a paragraph, he inquires whether the previous reader read only the preceding two verses or more.
(18) With respect to the reading by the ma'amad and on the New Moon readings.
(19) I.e., not the one who reads last.
(20) Other than the day of Atonement.
(21) Inserted in the Amidah — the prayer ענינו, v. P. B. p. 47.
(22) [Babylon stands here, as in other places in the Talmud, for Sura which was in the neighbourhood of the old great city of Babylon, and in contradistinction to Nehardea where Samuel had his seat, v. Obermeyer p. 306].
(23) To say propitiatory prayers — tahanun, v. P.B. p. 62.
(24) I.e., third, being neither kohen nor Levite.
(25) I.e., first.
(26) Although only a lay Israelite.
(27) Cf. Git. 59b.
(28) V. B.K. 80a.
(29) In giving him precedence.
(30) V. Shab. 108a.
(31) That a blessing should be said both before and after each reading. V. supra, p. 132.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 22b
but did not go out [during the reading of the law].1
Come and hear: ‘The general principle is that wherever the people would be hindered from their work, as on a public fast and on the month of Ab, three read, and where the people would not be hindered from their work, as on New Moons and the intermediate days of festivals,2 four read’. This settles the question. Said R. Ashi: But we have learnt differently, viz., THIS IS THE GENERAL RULE: WHEREVER THERE IS A MUSAF BUT NOT A FESTIVAL FOUR READ: Now what is added [by the words ‘THIS IS THE GENERAL RULE’]? Is it not a public fast and the month of Ab? But according to R. Ashi,3 whose view then is recorded in the Mishnah? It is neither that of the First Tanna nor of R. Jose, as it has been taught: ‘If it [the month of Ab] falls on Monday or Thursday, three read and one [of them] says a haftarah. If on Tuesday or Wednesday, one reads and [the same] one says the haftarah. R. Jose, however, says that in all cases three read and one [of them] says the haftarah’. But still4 the words ‘THIS IS THE GENERAL RULE are difficult! — No. They add New Moon and the intermediate days. But as these are stated explicitly: ON NEW MOONS AND THE INTERMEDIATE DAYS FOUR READ? — [The Mishnah]5 is merely giving an indication that you should not say that the festivals and the intermediate days have the same rule, but you should take this as a general principle, that for every additional distinguishing mark an additional person reads. Hence on New Moon and the intermediate days, when there is an additional sacrifice, four read; on festivals, when [in addition] work is prohibited, five read; on the Day of Atonement when [in addition] there is a penalty of kareth, six read; on Sabbath when there is a penalty of stoning, seven read.
The text [above stated]: ‘Rab happened to be in Babylon on a public fast. He came forward and read in the scroll. He made a blessing before commencing, but made no blessing after finishing. The whole congregation [subsequently] fell on their faces, but Rab did not fall on his face’. Why did not Rab fall on his face? There was a stone pavement there and it has been taught: ‘Neither shall ye place any figured stone in your land to bow down upon it:6 upon it ye may not bow down in your land, but you may prostrate yourselves on the stones in the Temple’, this teaching is in accord with the opinion of ‘Ulla, who said: The Torah [here] is forbidding only a pavement of stone. If that is the case, why is only Rab mentioned? All the rest should equally have abstained? — It was in front of Rab. But could he not have gone among the congregation and fallen on his face? — He did not want to trouble the congregation.7 Or if you like I can say that Rab usually spread out his hands and feet [when he fell on his face], and he followed the opinion of ‘Ulla, who said, The Torah forbade only the spreading out of the hands and feet. But could he not have fallen on his face without spreading out his hands and feet? — He did not care to change his custom. Or if you like I can say that for a distinguished man the rule is different, as laid down by R. Eleazar; for R. Eleazar said: A man of eminence is not permitted to fall on his face8 unless he is [sure of being] answered like Joshua son of Nun, as it is written, Wherefore now art thou fallen upon thy face.9
Our Rabbis have taught: Kidah means falling upon the face, as it says, Then Bathsheba bowed [wa-tikod] with her face to the earth.10 Keri'ah means going down upon the knees, and so it says, [Solomon arose] from kneeling [mi-kroa’] on his knees.11 Hishtahawa'ah is spreading out of the hands and feet, as it says, Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren come to prostrate ourselves [lehishtahawoth] before thee to the earth.12
Levi displayed a kidah13 in the presence of Rabbi and became lame.14 But was this the cause of his accident? Did not R. Eleazar Say: ‘A man should never complain against heaven, because a great man complained against heaven and he became lame; and who was he? Levi’?15 — Both things caused it. R. Hiyya b. Abin said: I saw Abaye
(1) Hence the reason for saying a blessing after did not apply.
(2) On the intermediate days only work which could not be left over without serious loss was allowed to be done. On New Moon it was the custom for women to abstain from work. V. Rashi and Tosaf. [In ancient times as long as the Temple stood New Moon was marked by a cessation of work; cf. Pseudo-Jonathan on I Sam. XX, 19; v. Halevy, Doroth, I, p. 330ff].
(3) That the Mishnah means to include a public fast and the month of Ab among the days on which four read.
(4) Viz., if we do not accept R. Ashi's explanation.
(5) In mentioning explicitly new moons and the intermediate days, although these are already implied in THIS IS THE GENERAL RULE.
(6) Lev. XXVI, 1. E.V., ‘to it’.
(7) Who would all have risen.
(8) In public.
(9) Josh. VII, 10. So that Rab never fell on his face for the propitiatory prayer.
(10) I Kings I, 31.
(11) Ibid. VIII, 54.
(12) Gen. XXXVII ,10.
(13) V. Suk. 53a.
(14) In getting up.
(15) V. Ta'an.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 23a
and Raba bend over to one side.1
ON FESTIVALS FIVE READ, ON THE DAY OF ATONEMENT SIX etc. Whose view does the Mishnah embody? It is neither that of R. Ishmael nor of R. Akiba, as it has been taught: ‘On festivals five read, on the Day of Atonement six, and on Sabbath seven. This number may neither be increased nor diminished. So R. Ishmael. R. Akiba says: On festivals five read, on the Day of Atonement seven and on Sabbath six. This number may not be diminished but it may be increased’. Whom [does the Mishnah follow]? If R. Ishmael, it conflicts with him over the additional number, if R. Akiba, it conflicts with him over the question of six and seven! — Raba said: The view is that of a Tanna of the school of R. Ishmael, since in the school of R. Ishmael it was stated: ‘On festivals five, on the Day of Atonement six, on Sabbath seven; this number may not be diminished but it may be increased. So R. Ishmael.’ R. Ishmael is now in conflict with himself! — Two Tannaim report R. Ishmael differently.
Who is responsible for the statement which has been taught: ‘On festivals people come late to synagogue and leave early.2 On the Day of Atonement they come early and leave late. On Sabbath they come early and leave early’?3 Shall I say it is R. Akiba who makes an extra man [read on the Day of Atonement]? — You may also say it is R. Ishmael, [his reason being that] the order [of the service] of the day is very long.
What do these three, five and seven represent? — Different answers were given by R. Isaac b. Nahmani and one who was with him, namely, R. Simeon b. Pazzi, or, according to others, by R. Simeon b. Pazzi and one who was with him, namely, R. Isaac b. Nahmani, or according to others, R. Samuel b. Nahmani. One said that [these represent] the [respective number of Hebrew words in the three verses of the] Priestly benedictions,4 while the other said ‘the three keepers of the door’.5 [The five represent] ‘five of them that saw the king's face’6 [and the seven] ‘seven men of them that saw the king's face’.7 R. Joseph learnt: Three, five and seven: ‘three keepers of the door’, five of them that saw the king's face’, and ‘seven that saw the king's face’. Said Abaye to him: Until to-day your honour never explained the reason to us, he replied: I never knew that you wanted to know. Did you ever ask me anything which I did not tell you?
Jacob the Min8 asked R. Judah: What do the six of the Day of Atonement represent? — He replied: The six who stood at the right of Ezra and the six who stood at his left, as it says, And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood which they had made for the purpose, and beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema and Anaiah and Uriah and Hilkiah and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael and Malchijah and Hashum and Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, Meshullam.9 But these last are seven? — Zechariah is the same as Meshullam. And why is he called Meshullam? Because he was blameless [mishlam] in his conduct.
Our Rabbis taught: All are qualified to be among the seven [who read], even a minor and a woman, only the Sages said that a woman should not read in the Torah out of respect for the congregation.
The question was raised: Should the Maftir10 be counted among the seven? — R. Huna and R. Jeremiah b. Abba answered differently. One said that he does count and the other that he does not count. The one who says he does count points to the fact that he actually reads [from the Torah also], while the one who says he does not count relies on the dictum of ‘Ulla, who said: Why is it proper for the one who reads the haftarah from the Prophet to read in the Torah first? To show respect for the Torah.11 Since then he reads [only] out of respect for the Torah,12 he should not be counted to make up the seven.
The following was cited in objection to this: ‘He who says the haftarah from the Prophet should read not less than twenty-one verses, corresponding to [those read by] the seven who have read in the Torah’. Now if it is as you say,13 there are twenty-four? — Since it is only out of respect for the Torah [that he reads],
(1) Because as men of eminence they were not permitted to fall right on their faces.
(2) They come late because they have been busy preparing the festival meal, and they leave early to enjoy the festival.
(3) They come early because their food is already prepared, and they leave early to enjoy Sabbath.
(4) Num. VI, 24-26.
(5) Mentioned in II Kings XXV, 18, among those taken captive from Jerusalem by Nebuzaradon.
(6) Mentioned ibid. 19.
(7) Mentioned in the corresponding account in Jer. LII, 25.
(8) V. Glos. Probably a Christian.
(9) Neh. VIII, 4.
(10) The one who reads the haftarah.
(11) I.e., by not putting the Prophet on the same level as the Torah.
(12) And not because an extra one is required to read.
(13) That the Maftir is not one of the seven.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 23b
no corresponding verses [to those read by him] are required [in the prophetical reading]. Raba strongly demurred to this: There is, he said, [the haftarah of] ‘Add your burnt-offerings’1 in which there are not twenty-one verses, and yet we read it! — The case is different there, because the subject is completed [before twenty-one verses]. But where the subject is not completed, do we then not [read less than twenty-one]? Has not R. Samuel b. Abba said: Many times I stood before R. Johanan, and when I had read ten verses he said,2 ‘Stop [both of] you’? — In a place where there is a translator3 it is different, since R. Tahlifa b. Samuel has taught: This rule was laid down only for a place where there is no translator, but where there is a translator a stop may be made [earlier].
MISHNAH. THE INTRODUCTION TO THE SHEMA IS NOT REPEATED,4 NOR DOES ONE PASS BEFORE THE ARK,5 NOR DO [THE PRIESTS] LIFT THEIR HANDS,6 NOR IS THE TORAH READ [PUBLICLY] NOR THE HAFTARAH READ FROM THE PROPHET,7 NOR ARE HALTS MADE [AT FUNERALS],8 NOR IS THE BLESSING FOR MOURNERS SAID,9 NOR THE COMFORT OF MOURNERS,10 NOR THE BLESSING OF THE BRIDEGROOMS,11 NOR IS THE NAME [OF GOD] MENTIONED IN THE INVITATION TO SAY GRACE,12 SAVE IN THE PRESENCE OF TEN. FOR REDEEMING SANCTIFIED PROPERTIES13 NINE AND A PRIEST [ARE SUFFICIENT], AND SIMILARLY WITH HUMAN BEINGS.
GEMARA. Whence these rules?14 — R. Hiyya b. Abba said in the name of R. Johanan: Because Scripture says, But I will be hallowed among the children of Israel:15 every act of sanctification requires not less than ten. How does the verse denote this? — As R. Hiyya taught: We explain the word ‘among’ here by reference to its use in another place. It is written here, ‘But I will be hallowed among the children of Israel’, and it is written elsewhere, Separate yourselves from among this congregation;16 and we further explain the word ‘congregation’ here by reference to what is written in another place, How long shall I bear with this evil congregation.17 Just as there ten are indicated,18 so here.
NOR ARE HALTS MADE [AT FUNERALS]. Since [the conductor of the funeral] requires to say, ‘stand, dear friends, stand; sit, dear friends, sit’,19 it is not proper20 [to have less than ten].
NOR IS THE BLESSING OF MOURNERS NOR THE BLESSING OF BRIDEGROOMS SAID etc. What is the blessing of mourners? The blessing of the public square,21 since22 R. Isaac said in the name of R. Johanan: The blessing of mourners requires the presence of ten, the mourners not being counted; the blessing of bridegrooms requires the presence of ten, the bridegroom being counted.
THE NAME [OF GOD] IS NOT MENTIONED IN THE INVITATION TO SAY GRACE WITH LESS THAN TEN. Since the one who invites has to say, ‘Let us bless our God’,it is not seemly to do so with less than ten.
FOR REDEEMING PROPERTIES NINE AND A PRIEST. Whence is this rule derived? — Samuel said: Ten priests are mentioned in the section [dealing with sanctifications],23 one for the actual priest required (and [the first] one [after] to limit),24 and the rest constitute a limitation after a limitation, and a limitation after a limitation has the force of an addition, to include, namely, nine Israelites and one priest.25 But cannot I [rather] say five priests and five Israelites?26 — This is indeed a difficulty.
AND SIMILARLY WITH HUMAN BEINGS. But can a human being become sanctified?27 — R. Abbahu said: It refers to one who says, ‘My money [value] be upon me’, as it has been taught: ‘If a man says, My money [value] be upon me, we estimate his value as we would that of a slave’. And a slave is put on the same footing as landed property, as it is written, And ye may make them an inheritance for your children after you, to hold for a possession.28
MISHNAH. ONE WHO READS THE TORAH [IN SYNAGOGUE] SHOULD READ NOT LESS THAN THREE VERSES, AND HE SHOULD NOT READ TO THE TRANSLATOR MORE THAN ONE VERSE [AT A TIME].29
(1) Jer. VII, 21, the Maftir to section Zaw (Lev. VI, I to VIII, 36).
(2) To him and to the translator.
(3) Who repeats each verse, in the Aramaic Targum.
(4) פורסין על שמע lit., ‘they do not divide over the Shema’’ (v. Glos.). According to Rashi this means that if a number of persons (not less than ten, or seven, or six, or three, according to various opinions, v. Tosaf. and Asheri) come into synagogue after the Shema’ has been said, it is allowable for the congregation to repeat the kaddish and bareku and the first blessing before the Shema’ for their benefit. From the context one would say that it means here more simply ‘say the Shema’ with its attendant blessings’. V. P.B. pp. 37ff. V. Rabbinowitz Mishnah Megillah, ad loc. [Kohler (The Origin of the Synagogue and the Church; p. 58) explains the phrase: ‘The lifting up the hands towards heaven at the recital of the Shema’ — In continuation of the old practice of the Hasidim’. Krauss (Israel-Theol. Lehranstalt, Wien, Bericht, 1933 p. 53): The stepping forward of the reader to recite the Shema’].
(5) To lead the congregation in the Amidah.
(6) To say the priestly blessing, Num. VI, 24-26.
(7) V. supra p. 140.
(8) Lit., ‘they do not make a halting and sitting’. It was the custom on the return from a funeral to have seven pauses during which lamentation was made in honour of the dead. V. infra.
(9) V. infra.
(10) The formal words of consolation addressed to the mourners on passing between the two rows formed by friends after the funeral; v. Keth. 8b and Sanh. 19a. Some texts omit ‘NOR COMFORT OF MOURNERS’.
(11) V. Keth. 7b and 8a and P.B. p. 299.
(12) Said by one of those present at table to the rest of the company.
(13) V. Lev. XXVII, 16-23.
(14) Relating to the synagogue.
(15) Lev. XXII, 32.
(16) Num. XVI, 21.
(17) Ibid. XIV, 27.
(18) The twelve spies without Joshua and Caleb; v. Sanh. 2a.
(19) V. B.B. 100b.
(20) Lit., ‘the way of the world’.
(21) ברכת רחבה A blessing of consolation pronounced in the open air on the mourners return from the burial; v. Keth., Sonc. ed. p. 41, n. 5.
(22) [To be omitted with MS.M. ‘R. Isaac said etc.’ beginning a new sentence v.Tosaf. s.v. ואמר].
(23) In Lev. XXVII, three times in connection with personal valuations v. 8, three in connection with the valuation of animals vv. 11-13, four with sanctification of property vv. 14, 18, 23; v. 21 is not included as the word priest is not mentioned there in connection with the act of ‘valuation’.
(24) These words are bracketed in the text.
(25) V. Sanh., Sonc. ed. p. 71 notes.
(26) The second mention adding an Israelite, the third going back to a priest, the fourth adding an Israelite and so on.
(27) Since all Israelite could not be sold in the market like a slave.
(28) Lev. XXV, 46.
(29) So that the translator (who had no book) should not become confused.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 24a
IN A PROPHET, HOWEVER, [HE MAY GIVE HIM] THREE AT A TIME.1 IF THE THREE VERSES CONSTITUTE THREE SEPARATE PARAGRAPHS,2 HE MUST READ THEM [TO THE TRANSLATOR] ONE BY ONE. THE READER MAY SKIP [FROM PLACE TO PLACE] IN A PROPHET BUT NOT IN THE TORAH. HOW FAR MAY HE SKIP? [ONLY] SO FAR THAT THE TRANSLATOR WILL NOT HAVE STOPPED3 [BEFORE HE FINDS HIS PLACE].4
GEMARA. What do these three verses represent? — R. Assi said: The Pentateuch, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa.
HE SHOULD NOT READ TO THE TRANSLATOR MORE THAN ONE VERSE. IN A PROPHET, HOWEVER, HE MAY READ THREE. IF THE THREE VERSES CONSTITUTE THREE PARAGRAPHS, HE MUST READ THEM ONE BY ONE. For instance, [the three verses], For thus saith the Lord, ye were sold for nought; For thus saith the Lord God, my people went down aforetime to Egypt; Now therefore what do I here, saith the Lord.5
THE READER MAY SKIP IN A PROPHET BUT NOT IN THE TORAH. A contradiction was pointed out [between this and the following]: ‘He [the High Priest] reads [on the Day of Atonement] "after the death"6 and "only on the tenth day".7 But he is skipping? — Abaye replied: There is no contradiction; in the one case the translator will have come to a stop [before the place is found] in the other case he will not have come to a stop.8 But it states in connection with this.
THE READER MAY SKIP IN THE PROPHET BUT HE MAY NOT SKIP IN THE TORAH. AND HOW FAR MAY HE SKIP? SO FAR THAT THE TRANSLATOR WILL NOT HAVE STOPPED. From this we infer that in the Torah he may not skip at all? — The truth is, said Abaye, that there is no contradiction. In the one case [the reader deals] with one subject, in the other case with two; and in fact it has been taught: ‘The reader may skip in the Torah [provided he keeps] to one subject, and in a Prophet even if he goes on to another subject’; and in both cases only so far that the translator will not have stopped [before he finds the place]. It has been taught in another place: ‘The reader may not skip from one prophet to another. In the Twelve Minor Prophets he may skip,9 provided only that he does not skip from the end of the book to the beginning.’10
MISHNAH. THE ONE WHO SAYS THE HAFTARAH FROM THE PROPHET REPEATS ALSO THE BLESSINGS BEFORE THE SHEMA’11 AND PASSES BEFORE THE ARK12 AND LIFTS UP HIS HANDS.13 IF HE IS A CHILD,14 HIS FATHER OR HIS TEACHER PASSES BEFORE THE ARK IN HIS PLACE. A CHILD MAY READ IN THE TORAH AND TRANSLATE, BUT HE MAY NOT PASS BEFORE THE ARK NOR LIFT UP HIS HANDS. A PERSON IN RAGS15 MAY REPEAT THE BLESSINGS BEFORE THE SHEMA AND TRANSLATE, BUT HE MAY NOT READ IN THE TORAH NOR PASS BEFORE THE ARK NOR LIFT UP HIS HANDS. A BLIND MAN MAY REPEAT THE BLESSINGS BEFORE THE SHEMA AND TRANSLATE. R. JUDAH SAYS: ONE WHO HAS NEVER SEEN THE LIGHT FROM HIS BIRTH MAY NOT RECITE THE BLESSINGS BEFORE THE SHEMA’.16
GEMARA. What is the reason [why the one who says the haftarah has this privilege]? — R. Papa said: As a mark of honour;17 R. Shimi said: Because otherwise quarrels might arise.18 What difference is there in practice between them? — There is a difference, in the case of one who reads gratis.19
We learn: IF HE IS A CHILD, HIS FATHER OR HIS TEACHER PASSES BEFORE THE ARK IN HIS PLACE. If now you say it is to avoid quarrels, will a child pick a quarrel? What then? It is a mark of respect? Does a child receive marks of respect? What you must say is, out of respect for his father and his teacher.
(1) Because if he makes a mistake, it does not matter so much.
(2) V. infra.
(3) Lit., ‘so that the translator shall not (have to) pause’.
(4) I.e., he must not have much to unroll in the scroll.
(5) Isa. LII, 3, 4 and 5.
(6) Lev. XVI, 1ff.
(7) Ibid. XXIII, 26ff.
(8) Because the passages read by the High Priest are not far apart.
(9) As these were all written in one scroll,
(10) I.e., go backwards.
(11) V. supra. Sof. XIV, 8 refers this to the Shema’ recited at the taking out of the law from the Ark; v. P.B. p. 145.
(12) To read the ‘Amidah, and especially the kedushah.
(13) To say the priestly blessing. Why the maftir should have these privileges is not at all clear, and the ‘lifting up of hands’ certainly was the privilege of every priest. V. Rabbinowitz, op. cit. MS.M. omits: ‘AND LIFTS UP HIS HANDS.
(14) Under thirteen.
(15) So that most of his body is exposed.
(16) Which include a prayer of thanksgiving for the creation of light.
(17) I.e., as a kind of reward for having consented to read the haftarah.
(18) Between persons eager to act as reader.
(19) In which case there will not be such competition for the honour, and so there is no need to give the one who says the haftarah priority.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 24b
So here too, there is the question of quarrels, involving him or his teacher.
A PERSON IN RAGS MAY REPEAT etc. ‘Ulla b. Rab enquired of Abaye: Is a child in rags allowed to read in the Torah?1 He replied: You might as well ask about a naked one. Why is one without any clothes not allowed? Out of respect for the congregation. So here, [he is not allowed] out of respect for the congregation.
A BLIND MAN MAY REPEAT THE BLESSINGS etc. It has been taught: They said to R. Judah: Many have discerned sufficiently [with their mind's eye] to expound the Chariot,2 and yet they never saw it? — What says R. Judah to this? — There [he can reply], all depends on the discernment of the heart, and the expounder by concentrating his mind can know, but here one reads for the benefit which he derives therefrom,3 and this one derives no benefit.4 The Rabbis, however, hold that he does derive a benefit, for the reason given by R. Jose, as it has been taught: R. Jose said: I was long perplexed by this verse, And thou shalt grope at noonday as the blind gropeth in darkness.5 Now what difference [I asked] does it make to a blind man whether it is dark or light? [Nor did I find the answer] until the following incident occurred. I was once walking on a pitch black night when I saw a blind man walking in the road with a torch in his hand. I said to him, My son, why do you carry this torch? He replied: As long as I have this torch in my hand, people see me and save me from the holes and the thorns and briars.6
MISHNAH. A PRIEST WHOSE HANDS ARE DEFORMED SHOULD NOT LIFT UP HIS HANDS [TO SAY THE PRIESTLY BLESSING]. R. JUDAH SAYS: ALSO ONE WHOSE HANDS ARE DISCOLOURED WITH WOAD7 SHOULD NOT LIFT UP HIS HANDS, BECAUSE [THIS MAKES] THE CONGREGATION LOOK AT HIM.8
GEMARA. A Tanna stated: The deformities which were laid down [as disqualifying] are on the face, the hands and the feet.9 R. Joshua b. Levi said: If his hands are spotted10 he should not lift up his hands. It has been taught similarly: ‘If his hands are spotted, he should not lift up his hands. If they are curved inwards or bent sideways, he should not lift up his hands’.
R. Assi said: A priest from Haifa or Beth Shean11 should not lift up his hands. It has been taught to the same effect: ‘We do not allow to pass before the ark either men from Beth Shean or from Haifa or from Tib'onim,12 because they pronounce alif as ‘ayin and ‘ayin as alif’.13
Said R. Hiyya to R. Simeon b. Rabbi: If you were a Levite, you would not be qualified to chant,14 because your voice is thick. He went and told his father who said to him: Go and say to him, When you come to the verse, And I will wait [we-hikethi] for the Lord,15 will you not be a reviler and blasphemer?16
R. Huna said: A man whose eyes run should not lift up his hands. But was there not one in the neighbourhood of R. Huna who used to spread forth his hands? — The townspeople had become accustomed to him.17 It has been taught to the same effect: ‘A man whose eyes run should not lift up his hands, but if the townspeople are accustomed to him, he is permitted’. R. Johanan said: A man blind in one eye should not lift up his hands. But was not there one in the neighbourhood of R. Johanan who used to lift up his hands? — The townspeople were accustomed to him. It has been taught to the same effect: ‘A man blind in one eye should not lift up his hands, but if the townspeople are accustomed to him, he is permitted’.
R. JUDAH SAYS: A MAN WHOSE HANDS ARE DISCOLOURED SHOULD NOT LIFT UP HIS HANDS. A Tanna stated: If most of the men of the town follow the same occupation it is permitted.
MISHNAH. IF ONE SAYS, I WILL NOT PASS BEFORE THE ARK [TO ACT AS READER] IN COLOURED ROBES, HE MUST NOT PASS BEFORE IT IN WHITE ROBES EITHER. [IF HE SAYS], I WILL NOT PASS BEFORE IT IN SHOES, HE MUST NOT PASS BEFORE IT BAREFOOT EITHER. A PHYLACTERY [FOR THE HEAD] WHICH IS MADE ROUND18 IS DANGEROUS19 AND HAS NO RELIGIOUS VALUE. TO PUT THEM ON THE FOREHEAD OR ON THE PALM OF THE HAND20 IN THE MANNER OF THE HERESY,21 TO OVERLAY THEM WITH GOLD OR PUT [THE ONE FOR THE HAND] ON ONE'S SLEEVE IS THE MANNER OF THE OUTSIDERS.22
GEMARA. [IN COLOURED ROBES]. What is the reason [why he must not act as reader]? We are apprehensive that he has a leaning towards minuth.23
TO MAKE ONE'S PHYLACTERY ROUND IS DANGEROUS AND HAS NO RELIGIOUS VALUE. May we say that our Mishnah teaches here the same as our Rabbis taught: ‘That phylacteries should be square is a law set down by Moses at Sinai’, and Raba explained [this to mean] in their seam and in their diagonal?24 — R. Papa said: The Mishnah is speaking only of those which are made as round as a nut.25
MISHNAH. IF ONE SAYS
(1) A child not being forbidden to expose himself.
(2) The first chapter of Ezekiel.
(3) Viz., the light.
(4) He does not enjoy the benefit of light.
(5) Deut. XXVIII, 29.
(6) So although blind, he does benefit by the light.
(7) [Var. lec. add: ‘or madder’, a red dye].
(8) And it is forbidden to look at the priests while saying the blessing, v. Hag. 16.
(9) The priest said the blessing barefoot, v. Sot. 40a.
(10) With white pustules. The deformity apparently is the same as that referred to in Lev. XIII, 39.
(11) Towns in Palestine.
(12) More correctly Tibe'on, perhaps the same as modern Tubun, W. of Sephoris.
(13) V. Glos.
(14) Lit., ‘for the platform’, on which the Levites stood while chanting.
(15) Isa. VIII, 17.
(16) Because he could not pronounce a heth and would say we-hikethi, which would mean ‘And I shall smite’.
(17) Lit. ‘he had become familiar to the townspeople’.
(18) Instead of cube-shaped.
(19) [The capsule might penetrate his head during prostration at tahanun (supra p. 135 n. 6). V. Rashi and R. Hananel]. R. Tam takes this to mean that it will not avail him in time of danger. V. Shab. 49a.
(20) According to the literal meaning of the text, and thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand and they shall be phylacteries between thine eyes. Deut. VI, 8.
(21) Minuth (v. Glos. s.v. Min) Maim.: Sadducees. The reading ‘Karaites’ in some texts is a censor's variant.
(22) This term apparently designates persons who followed the Rabbis only partially. According to the Rabbis, the phylacteries had to be made wholly of the skin of a clean animal and to be placed directly on the flesh.
(23) Probably Judeo-Christianity, the Christians being particular about this. For other suggestions v. Rabbinowitz, op. cit. a.l.
(24) Apparently this means ‘both in their base and in their height’.
(25) But the shape of an egg or of a bean might be permitted (Rashi).
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 25a
‘MAY THE GOOD BLESS THEE’, THIS IS A CUSTOM OF HERESY.1 [IF HE SAYS], ‘MAY THY MERCIES REACH THE NEST OF A BIRD’, ‘MAY THY NAME BE MENTIONED FOR WELL-DOING’, ‘WE GIVE THANKS, WE GIVE THANKS’,2 HE IS SILENCED. IF HE INTRODUCES EUPHEMISMS INTO THE PORTION DEALING WITH FORBIDDEN MARRIAGES,3 HE IS SILENCED. IF HE SAYS, [INSTEAD OF] ‘AND THOU SHALT NOT GIVE ANY OF THY SEED TO SET THEM APART TO MOLOCH’, ‘THOU SHALT NOT GIVE TO TRANSFER IT TO A GENTILE WOMAN’,4 HE IS BOTH SILENCED AND REBUKED.5
GEMARA. We understand the prohibition of saying ‘WE GIVE THANKS, WE GIVE THANKS’, because he seems to be addressing two Powers;6 also of ‘THY NAME BE MENTIONED FOR WELL-DOING’, because this implies, for good, yes, for evil, no, and we have learnt, ‘It is the duty of a man to bless [God] for evil in the same way as he blesses for good’.7 But what is the reason for prohibiting, ‘MAY THY MERCIES REACH THE NEST OF A BIRD’?8 — Different answers were given by two Amoraim in the West [Palestine], R. Jose b. Abin and R. Jose b. Zebida. One said, it is because he creates jealousy in the work of the creation,9 and the other says it is because he makes the commands10 of the Holy One, blessed be He, acts of grace, whereas they are only decrees.11 A certain man went down [before the ark] in the presence of Rabbah and said, ‘Thou hast shown pity to the nest of a bird, do thou have pity and mercy on us’; (Thou hast shown pity to an animal and its young,12 do thou have pity and mercy on us). Said Rabbah: How well this Rabbi knows how to placate his Master! Said Abaye to him: But we have learnt, HE IS SILENCED? — Rabbah only wanted to sharpen Abaye's wits.
A certain [reader] went down before the ark in the presence of R. Hanina and said, ‘The great, the mighty, the terrible, the majestic, the strong, the powerful God’. He said to him: Have you finished the praises of your Master? Even the first three, had it not been that Moses wrote them in the Law13 and the Men of the Great Synagogue came and ordained them,14 we should not recite; and you say all this! It is as if a man had thousands of thousands of denarii of gold and people to praise his wealth would say he had a thousand. Would it not be an insult to him?
R. Hanina said: Everything is in the hands of heaven except the fear of heaven15 as it says, And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God ask of thee but to fear.16 Are we to infer from this that fear is a small thing? — Yes; for Moses our teacher it was a small thing. In the same way, if a man is asked for a big article and he has it, it seems to him only small, but if he is asked for a small article and he has it not, it seems big to him.
R. Zera said: For one to say, ‘Hear, Hear’,17 is like saying, ‘We give thanks, we give thanks’. The following was cited in objection to this: ‘He who recites the Shema’ and repeats is reprehensible’. He is only reprehensible, but we do not silence him? — There is no contradiction. In the one case we suppose he repeats each word as he says it,18 in the other that he repeats a whole sentence.19 Said R. Papa to him: But perhaps [the reason why he repeats] is because at first he was not thinking of what he said, and now he does think? — He replied: Is he to treat heaven like an ordinary acquaintance?20 If he does not think of what he is saying, I will hit him with a hammer till he does think.
IF HE INTRODUCES EUPHEMISMS INTO THE PASSAGE DEALING WITH FORBIDDEN MARRIAGES, HE IS SILENCED. R. Joseph learned: [If, for example, he says] ‘the shame of his father, the shame of his mother’.21
IF ONE SAYS, AND THOU SHALT NOT GIVE ANY OF THY SEED TO SET THEM APART etc. In the school of R. Ishmael it was stated: The text speaks of an Israelite who has intercourse with a Cuthean woman and begets from her a son for idolatry.22
MISHNAH. THE INCIDENT OF REUBEN IS READ IN SYNAGOGUE BUT NOT TRANSLATED.23 THE STORY OF TAMAR24 IS READ AND TRANSLATED. THE FIRST ACCOUNT OF THE INCIDENT OF THE GOLDEN CALF25 IS BOTH READ AND TRANSLATED, THE SECOND26 IS READ BUT NOT TRANSLATED. THE BLESSING OF THE PRIESTS27 IS READ BUT NOT TRANSLATED. THE STORIES OF DAVID28 AND AMNON29 ARE READ BUT NOT TRANSLATED. THE PORTION OF THE CHARIOT30 IS NOT READ AS A HAFTARAH, BUT R. JUDAH PERMITS THIS. R. ELEAZAR SAYS: THE PORTION, MAKE KNOWN TO JERUSALEM’,31 IS NOT READ AS A HAFTARAH.
GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: Some portions [of the Scripture] are both read and translated, some are read but not translated, [and some are neither read nor translated].32 The following are both read and translated: (Mnemonic: B'L'T’ ‘E'K'N’ N'SH'P'H’).33 The account of the creation34 is both read and translated. Certainly! — You might think that [through hearing it] people are led to inquire what is above and what is below,
(1) Minuth (v. supra note 4); implying that only the good are invited to bless God (Rashi).
(2) In the ‘Amidah prayer.
(3) Lev, ch. XVIII.
(4) I.e., beget children from a Gentile woman. Aliter: ‘To render pregnant a Gentile woman’. Either version is a departure from the text which is an injunction against Moloch worship. [Aruch (s.v. ארם): ‘Thou shalt not give any of thy seed to the Arameans to set them apart to Moloch’, implying that the prohibition applies only to the Moloch worship of a particular nation. Albeck Ch., Bericht Hochschule, Berlin 1930 p. 55 renders it: thou shalt not give thy seed to pass to heathendom, viz., to introduce them to the knowledge of heathen culture and custom.]
(5) All this is explained in the Gemara.
(6) V. Ber. 54a.
(7) [The dualism of the Persians — the god of darkness and of light.]
(8) With reference to the prohibition of taking both a bird and its nestlings. Deut. XXII, 6. 7.
(9) As though God had mercy on birds and not on beasts.
(10) Lit., ‘his attributes’. [Herford sees in this a protest against the Pauline antithesis of Law and Grace, v. Christianity in Talmud and Midrash pp. 202ff.]
(11) Which must be obeyed whether they are merciful or not.
(12) V. Lev. XXII, 28. This sentence is bracketed in the text.
(13) Deut. X, 17.
(14) V. Neh. IX, 32.
(15) It is left to the free choice of man whether to be Godfearing or not.
(16) Deut. X, 12.
(17) In reciting the Shema’.
(18) I.e., he says, ‘Hear, hear, Israel, Israel’ which is only a stupidity.
(19) I.e., he says, ‘We give thanks to thee, we give thanks to thee’, as if he were addressing two Powers.
(20) Lit., ‘Intimacy towards heaven!’
(21) From prudery, instead of ‘the nakedness’; Lev. XVIII, 7. [Maim: instead ‘of thy father’, ‘of thy mother’].
(22) Cf. Pseudo-Jonathan a.l. Apparently this is in flat contradiction with the Mishnah. Possibly R. Ishmael means to explain the words of the Mishnah which are somewhat obscure (Rashi). [According to Aruch's and Albeck's explanations (v. p. 149, n. 3) the Mishnah does not denounce R. Ishmael's version.]
(23) Gen. XXXV, 22.
(24) Ibid. XXXVIII.
(25) Ex. XXXII, 1-20.
(26) Ibid. 21-25.
(27) Num. VI, 24-27.
(28) II Sam. XI, 2-17.
(29) Ibid. XIII, 1-4.
(30) Ezek. I and X.
(31) Ibid. XVI.
(32) Wilna Gaon omits the words in brackets.
(33) B = Bereshith (creation); L = Lot; T = Tamar;E= ‘Egel (Calf); K = Kelaloth (curses); N = ‘Oneshin (penalties); N = Amnon; Sh =Abshalom, P = Pilegesh (concubine); H =hoda’ (make known).
(34) Gen. I.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 25b
and what is before and what is after.1 Therefore we are told [that this is no objection]. The story of Lot and his two daughters2 is both read and translated. Certainly! — You might think that [we should forbear] out of respect for Abraham. Therefore we are told [that this is no objection]. The story of Tamar and Judah is both read and translated. Certainly! — We might think that [we should forbear] out of respect for Judah. Therefore we are told [that this is no objection]; [the passage] really redounds to his credit, because [it records that] he confessed.3 The first account of the making of the Calf is both read and translated. Certainly! — You might think that [we should forbear] out of respect for Israel. Therefore we are told [that this is no objection]; on the contrary, it is agreeable to them,4 because it was followed by atonement.5 The curses and blessings6 are both read and translated. Certainly! — You might think that [we should forbear] lest the congregation should become disheartened; therefore we are told [that this is no objection]. Warnings and penalties are both read and translated. Certainly! — You might think that [we should forbear] for fear that they may come to keep the commandments out of fear;7 therefore we are told [that this is no objection]. The story of Amnon and Tamar is both read and translated. Certainly! — You might think that [we should forbear] out of respect for David. Therefore we are told [that this is no objection]. The story of the concubine in Gibea8 is both read and translated. Certainly! — You might think [that we should forbear] out of respect for Benjamin. Therefore we are told [that this is no objection]. The passage commencing ‘Make known to Jerusalem her abominations’ is both read and translated. Certainly! — This is stated to exclude the view of R. Eleazar, as it has been taught: ‘On one occasion a man read in the presence9 of R. Eleazar ‘Make known to Jerusalem her abominations’. He said to him, While you are investigating the abominations of Jerusalem, go and investigate the abominations of your own mother. Inquiries were made into his birth, and he was found to be illegitimate.
Mnemonic: R'E'B'D'N’).10 The incident of Reuben is read but not translated. On one occasion R. Hanina b. Gamaliel went to Kabul,11 and the reader of the congregation read, ‘And it came to pass when Israel abode’,12 and he said to the translator, Translate only the latter part of the verse, and the Sages commended his action. The second account of the Calf is read but not translated. What is the second account of the Calf? — From ‘And Moses said’ up to ‘and Moses saw’.13 It has been taught: A man should always be careful in wording his answers, because on the ground of the answer which Aaron made to Moses the unbelievers were able to deny [God], as it says, And I cast it into the fire and this calf came forth.14
The priestly blessing is read but not translated. What is the reason? — Because it contains the words, May he lift up.15
The accounts of David and Amnon are neither read nor translated.16 But you just said that the story of Amnon and Tamar is both read and translated? — There is no contradiction; the former statement refers to where it says ‘Amnon son of David’,17 the latter to where it says ‘Amnon’ simply.
Our Rabbis taught: Wherever an indelicate expression is written in the text, we substitute a more polite one in reading.18 [Thus for] yishgalenah19 [we read] yishkabenah;20 [for] ba'apolim21 [we read] ba-tehorim;22 [for] hiryonim23 [we read] dibyonim;24 [for] le-ekol eth horehem we-lishtoth eth meme shinehem25 [we read] le-ekol eth zo'atham we-lishtoth eth meme raglehem;26 [for] la-mahara'oth27 [we read] lemoza'oth.28 R. Joshua b. Korha, however, says that the actual word la-mahara'oth27 [is read] because it is a term of opprobrium for idolatry. R. Nahman said: All gibing29 is forbidden save gibing at idolatry, which is permitted, as it is written, Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth30 and the text goes on, They stoop, they bow down together, they cannot deliver the burden, etc. R. Jannai learns the same lesson from here: The inhabitants of Samaria shall be in dread for the calves of Beth Aven, for the people thereof shall mourn over it and the Priests thereof shall tremble for it, for its glory, because it is departed from it.31 Read not ‘its glory’ [kebodo], but ‘its burden’ [kebedo]. R. Huna b. Manoah said in the name of R. Aha the son of R. Ika: It is permitted to an Israelite to say to a Cuthean, Take your idol and put it in your shin tof.32 R. Ashi said: It is permissible to abuse a person of ill fame33 with the term gimel shin.34 It is permissible to praise a person of good report and if one does praise him, ‘blessings shall rest upon his head’.
MISHNAH. IF THE TOWNSPEOPLE35 SELL THE TOWN SQUARE,36 THEY MAY BUY WITH THE PROCEEDS A SYNAGOGUE;37 [IF THEY SELL] A SYNAGOGUE, THEY MAY BUY WITH THE PROCEEDS AN ARK;38 [IF THEY SELL] AN ARK THEY MAY BUY WRAPPINGS [FOR SCROLLS]; [IF THEY SELL] WRAPPINGS
(1) I.e., before the creation and after the end of the world. Cf. Hag. 11b.
(2) Gen. XIX, 31-38.
(3) Ibid. XXXVIII, 26.
(4) To have the story recounted.
(5) [MS.M. so that there may be (by the recounting of the lapse) an atonement unto them].
(6) Lev. XXVI; Deut. XXVII.
(7) Rashi apparently makes this the reason for reading the curses and blessings, and reads ‘out of love and fear’, i.e., desire for the blessings and fear of the curses, while he transfers to this place the clause in the previous sentence, ‘lest the congregation should become disheartened’. But. v. Maharsha.
(8) Jud. XIX, XX.
(9) [Lit., ‘above’, the reader in public occupying a raised position].
(10) R = Reuben; E= ‘Egel (calf); B = berakah (blessing); D = David; N = Amnon.
(11) S.E. of Akko.
(12) Gen. XXXV, 22.
(13) Ex. XXXII, 21-25.
(14) Which seems to be an admission that the calf had divine powers.
(15) Which seems to imply favouritism for Israel.
(16) According to R. Bezalel Ronsburg, the proper reading is ‘The accounts of David and Amnon are read but not translated’.
(17) I.e. the first verse of the chapter.
(18) Lit., ‘wherever the text is written indelicately, we read it delicately’.
(19) ישגלנה ‘ravish’.
(20) ישכבנה Deut. XXVIII, 30. E.V. ‘shall lie with her’.
(21) בעפולים ‘posteriors’.
(22) בטחורים I Sam. V, 5. E.V. ‘emerods’.
(23) חריונים ‘dove's dungs’. So E.V.
(24) דביונים II Kings VI, 25. E.V. ‘decayed leaves’.
(25) חוריהםץץץמימי שיניהם ‘excrement . . . urine.
(26) צואתםץץץמימי רגליהם Ibid. XVIII, 27. E.V. ‘deposit . . . water of his feet’
(27) למחראות ‘privies’.
(28) למוצאות Ibid. X, 27, ‘retreats’. E.V. ‘draughthouse’.
(29) The reference apparently is to obscenity.
(30) Isa. XLVI, 1.
(31) Hos. X, 5.
(32) שת Fundament.
(33) I.e., suspected of adultery.
(34) According to Rashi, = gala shaita (adulterer, madman). Another reading is beth gimel = bar girtha (son of a harlot).
(35) Lit., ‘sons of the town’: probably the general assembly of residents of over twelve months’ standing. V. Rabbinowitz, op. cit.
(36) Lit., ‘broad place’. Where at times religious ceremonies were performed.
(37) On the principle that we may use for a more holy purpose but not for a less holy’; and so with the rest.
(38) In which to place the Scrolls of the Law.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 26a
THEY MAY BUY SCROLLS;1 [IF THEY SELL] SCROLLS THEY MAY BUY A [SEFER] TORAH. BUT IF THEY SELL A [SEFER] TORAH THEY MAY NOT BUY WITH THE PROCEEDS SCROLLS; IF [THEY SELL] SCROLLS THEY MAY NOT BUY WRAPPINGS; IF [THEY SELL] WRAPPINGS THEY MAY NOT BUY AN ARK; IF [THEY SELL] AN ARK THEY MAY NOT BUY A SYNAGOGUE; IF [THEY SELL] A SYNAGOGUE THEY MAY NOT BUY A TOWN SQUARE. THE SAME APPLIES TO ANY MONEY LEFT OVER.2
GEMARA. IF THE TOWNSPEOPLE SELL THE TOWN SQUARE. Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said in the name of R. Johanan: This is the view of R. Menahem b. Jose the anonymous author,3 but the Sages say that no sanctity attaches to the square. What is the reason of R. Menahem b. Jose? — Because the people pray in it on fast days4 and at gatherings of the ma'amad.5 What say the Rabbis to this? — That happens only exceptionally. IF [THEY SELL] THE SYNAGOGUE THEY MAY BUY AN ARK. R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in the name of R. Jonathan: This rule applies only to a synagogue in a village, but a synagogue in a large town, since people from all parts come to it,6 may not be sold, it being regarded as belonging to a wider public. Said R. Ashi: As for this synagogue in Matha Mehasia,7 although people come to it from all parts, since they come at my discretion,8 I can if I like sell it. An objection was raised: ‘R. Judah says: It is recorded of the synagogue of the coppersmiths9 in Jerusalem that they sold it to R. Eliezer and he used it for his own purposes’. And yet that was one in a large town? — That was a very small synagogue, and they themselves had made it.
The following was further raised in objection: ‘In a house of the land of your possession:10 your possession is defiled by leprosy, but Jerusalem is not defiled by leprosy’.11 R. Judah said: I have not heard this laid down save with respect to the area of the Sanctuary alone. We thus see that [according to R. Judah] synagogues and houses of study are defiled; and yet why [according to you] should this be, seeing that they belong to the town?12 — I would emend [the above statement to read]: ‘R. Judah says: I have not heard this rule laid down save in relation to a sanctified place only’.13
On what point do these [two authorities] join issue? — The First Tanna is of opinion that Jerusalem was not apportioned to [any of] the tribes,14 while R. Judah was of opinion that it was apportioned to [certain of] the tribes; and their difference is the same as that of the following Tannaim, as it has been taught: What [part of Jerusalem] was in the portion of Judah?15 The Temple mountain,16 the priestly chambers,17 and the courts.18 And what was in the portion of Benjamin? The hall19 and the sanctuary20 and the holy of holies.21 A strip projected from the portion of Judah into the portion of Benjamin, and in it the altar [of sacrifice] was built, and every day the righteous Benjamin fretted over it, desiring to swallow it up, as it says, Crouching over it all the day.22 Therefore Benjamin was privileged to become the host of the Shechinah’.23 The following Tanna, however, held that Jerusalem was not apportioned to any of the tribes, as it has been taught: ‘People cannot let out houses24 in Jerusalem as they do not belong to them. R. Eleazar b. Zadok says: They may not hire out beds either.25 Therefore householders [who took in guests] would seize the skins of [visitors’] sacrifices forcibly’.26 Abaye remarked: We may see from this that it is good manners for a man to leave his [empty] wine-flask and his skin-rug at his guest-house.
Raba said: This rule27 was meant to apply only where the seven ‘good men’ of the town28 did not sell in the assembly of the townspeople. But if the seven ‘good men’ of the town sold in the assembly of the townspeople, even
(1) Of the Scriptural books other than the Pentateuch.
(2) From any of these purchases.
(3) I.e., whose opinions are usually quoted without mention of his name. Cf. supra p. 4, n. 1.
(4) V. Ta'an. 15a. Apparently the square was usually in front of the synagogue.
(5) V. Glos. The ma'amad did not in fact pray in the square but in the synagogue, and this word is omitted by many authorities, v. Rashi.
(6) And are regarded as having contributed to it, or may actually have contributed to it.
(7) A suburb of Sura.
(8) I.e., since they have contributed on condition that I may do as I please with the money (Tosaf.). Cf. B.B. 3b.
(9) טורסײם (Tarsians), or ‘filigree workers’. [We find a synagogue of Tarsians also in Tiberias and Lydda, and in Krauss, Synagogale Altertumer, p. 201, they are identical with the synagogue of Alexandrians (cf. the parallel passage in the Jerusalem Talmud Megillah III, 1) who had brought over with them to Palestine the industry in Tarsian carpets — an industry which flourished greatly in Egypt; v. also T.A. II, 625].
(10) Lev. XIV, 34; of leprosy of houses.
(11) V. infra.
(12) And so cannot be called ‘your possession’. (V. Tosaf. s.v. ואמאי).
(13) Including also synagogues and houses of study.
(14) But remained the possession of all of them jointly.
(15) Jerusalem was on the border between the territories of Judah and Benjamin.
(16) On the east of the city.
(17) The rooms used by the priests for various purposes.
(18) The Court of Women, the Israelites’ Court, and the Priests’ Court.
(19) Ulam. Leading to the interior of the Temple.
(20) Containing the candlestick and table and altar of incense.
(21) Containing the Ark.
(22) As if to swallow it. Deut. XXXIII, 12. E. V. ‘He covereth him all the day’.
(23) Through the Holy of Holies. V. Yoma 12a.
(24) To the pilgrims who come to Jerusalem for the three Festivals (Rashi).
(25) Because the ground on which they rested did not belong to them (Tosaf).
(26) In lieu of payment for lodging.
(27) That the proceeds of the sale could not be used for purchasing something less holy, and that the thing sold itself retained its holiness.
(28) Seven men who acted as representatives of the town in communal matters — optimates.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 26b
if it was for a drinking place,1 the transaction holds good. Rabina had the ground of a dismantled synagogue. He applied to R. Ashi to know whether he could plant seeds there. He replied: Go and buy it from the seven ‘good men’ of the town in the assembly of the townspeople, and you may then sow it.
Rami b. Abba was building a synagogue. There was a certain old synagogue which he wanted to pull down, so as to take bricks and beams from it and use them for the other. He was doubtful, however, how to interpret the dictum of R. Hisda; for R. Hisda2 said: A man should not pull down a synagogue until he has built another [to take its place]. The reason there, [he knew] was so that there should be no negligence.3 But what was the rule in such a case as this?4 He applied to R. Papa, who forbade him; to R. Huna, and he also forbade him.
Raba said: A synagogue may be exchanged or sold [for secular purposes], but may not be hired or pledged. What is the reason?
[In the latter case] its holiness is still adhering to it.5 Its bricks also, may be exchanged or sold [for secular purposes], but not lent. This rule applies only to old ones,6 but in the case of new ones there is no objection.7 And even if we adopt the view that the mere intention [to use a thing for a certain purpose] has a certain force, this would be the case, for instance, with one who weaves a shroud for a dead body,8 but in this case [the objects in question] are like thread which has still to be woven into cloth, and no authority says [that in such a case there is force in mere intention].
[With regard to a synagogue which has been made] a gift, there is a difference of opinion between R. Aha and Rabina, one forbidding [it to be used for secular purposes] and one permitting. The one who forbade did so on the ground that there is nothing to which its holiness is transferred,9 while the one who permitted it argued that if he [the giver] did not derive some benefit from the act10 he would not give it, so that in the end the gift is equivalent to a sale.
Our Rabbis taught: ‘Accessories of religious observances [when disused] are to be thrown away; accessories of holiness are to be stored away. The following are accessories of religious observances: a sukkah, a lulab, a shofar,11 fringes. The following are accessories of holiness: large sacks for keeping scrolls of the Scripture in, tefillin and mezuzoth,11 a mantle for a sefer torah,11 and a tefillin bag and tefillin straps’. Raba said: At first I used to think that the stand [on which the sefer torah is placed] is an accessory to an accessory and that it is permitted.12 When, however, I saw that the sefer torah is placed actually on it,13 I came to the conclusion that it is all accessory of holiness and is forbidden. Raba further said: At first I used to think that the curtain14 is an accessory of an accessory. When, however, I observed that it is folded over and a scroll is placed on it, I came to the conclusion that it is itself an accessory of holiness, and forbidden.
Raba further said: When an ark is falling asunder, to make it into a smaller ark is permitted, but to make it into a stand15 is forbidden. Raba further said: When a curtain is worn out, to make it into a mantle for a [whole] scroll of the Law is permitted, but for a single humash11 is forbidden. Raba further said: These bags for humashim and boxes for scrolls16 are accessories of holiness and must be stored away [when disused]. Is not this obvious? — You might think that these are used not out of respect [for the scrolls] but merely for protection. Therefore we are told [that this is not so].
There was a synagogue of the Roman Jews17 which opened out into a room where a dead body was deposited.18 The kohanim19 wanted to go in there to pray, and they came and asked Raba [what they should do]. He said: Take the ark and put it down there,20 since it is a wooden vessel which is meant to be stationary, and every wooden vessel which is meant to be stationary is immune from defilement and forms a partition to prevent the passage of defilement. Said the Rabbis to Raba: But sometimes it is moved while a scroll of the law is resting on it, and thus it becomes a vessel which is moved both when full and when empty? If that is so [he said], there is no remedy.
Mar Zutra said: Wrappings of scrolls which are worn out may be used for making shrouds for a meth mizwah;21 and this act constitutes their ‘storing away’.
Raba also said: A scroll of the law which is worn out may be buried by the side of a talmid hakam,19 even though he be one who only repeats halachoth.22 R. Aha b. Jacob said: It should be put in an earthenware vessel, as it says, And put them in an earthen vessel that they may continue many days.23
R. Papi said in the name of Raba: To turn a synagogue into a college24 is permitted; to turn a college into a synagogue is forbidden. R. Papa, however, also reporting Raba, states the opposite. R. Aha said:
(1) Bah. adds: ‘or for spreading out fruit’.
(2) B.B. 3b.
(3) To build the new one after the old one had been pulled down.
(4) Where the object of pulling down the old one was to obtain building material for the new one.
(5) But if it is sold or exchanged, its holiness is transferred to the money or to its equivalent.
(6) I.e., bricks in an old synagogue.
(7) Because they have not yet become holy.
(8) The shroud being ready for use for the purpose for which it is intended.
(9) Lit., ‘(asked) to what is its holiness transferred’, reading במאי with Alfasi; or, ‘why should its holiness be lost’, reading אמאי with Asheri; cur. edd. בהאי ‘with this’.
(10) I.e., receive some return from the recipient, which acquires the sanctity of the synagogue.
(11) V. Glos.
(12) ‘To use it for secular purposes when it is worn out’.
(13) And not on a cloth spread over it.
(14) Hung over the Ark in synagogue.
(15) On which to place the sefer torah when read.
(16) Of the Prophets or Hagiographa.
(17) יהודאי רומאי. Who had settled in Mahuza (Rashi). Probably Syrian Jews are meant, not Roman. [Obermeyer (p. 179): Jews of Rumae, the Persian Rumakan, near Mahuza, the seat of Raba].
(18) Before being taken to the cemetery, and its uncleanness spread from the room to the synagogue. V. B.B. 20a.
(19) V. Glos.
(20) Just between the room and the synagogue.
(21) Lit., ‘an obligatory corpse’: a dead body found by the wayside which it is obligatory on passers-by to bury if the relatives cannot be found; v. Glos.
(22) I.e., he knew only Mishnahs and Baraithas, not the Gemara also (Rashi).
(23) Jer. XXXII, 14.
(24) Lit., ‘House of Rabbis’.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 27a
The statement of R. Papi is the more probable, since R. Joshua b. Levi said: It is permissible to make a synagogue into a beth hamidrash. This seems conclusive.
Bar Kappara gave the following exposition. ‘What is the meaning of the verse, And he burnt the house of the Lord and the king's house and all the houses of Jerusalem even every great man's house burnt he with fire?1 ‘The house of the Lord’: this is the Temple. ‘The king's house’: this is the royal palace. ‘All the houses of Jerusalem’: literally. ‘Even every great man's house burnt he with fire’:2 R. Johanan and R. Joshua b. Levi gave different interpretations of this. One said, it means the place where the Torah is magnified; the other, the place where a prayer is magnified. The one who says Torah bases himself on the verse, The Lord was pleased, for his righteousness’ sake to make the torah great and glorious.3 The one who says prayer bases himself on the verse, Tell me, I pray thee, the great things that Elisha has done;4 and what Elisha did, he did by means of prayer. It may be presumed that it was R. Joshua b. Levi who said, ‘the place where Torah is magnified’, since R. Joshua b. Levi said that a synagogue may be turned into a beth ha-midrash; which is a clear indication.
BUT IF THEY SELL A [SEFER] TORAH THEY MAY NOT BUY SCROLLS. The question was raised: What is the rule about selling an old sefer torah to buy a new one? Do we say that since we do not thus go to higher grade [in the use of the money] it is forbidden, or are we to say that since there is no higher grade to go to, there is no objection? Come and hear: BUT IF THEY SELL, A [SEFER] TORAH THEY MAY NOT BUY SCROLLS; it is scrolls that they may not buy, but to buy a [sefer] torah with the money of a [sefer] torah is unobjectionable! [No.] But the Mishnah speaks of some thing already done, we ask whether it may be done in the first instance? — Come and hear: A sefer torah may be rolled up in the wrappings of a humash, or a humash in the wrappings of a scroll of prophets and hagiographa, but prophets and hagiographa may not be rolled up in the wrappings of a humash, nor a humash in the wrappings of a sefer torah.5 Now it states here at any rate that a sefer torah may be rolled up in the wrappings of a humash; [as much as to say], in the wrappings of a humash it may be, but in those of [another] sefer torah it may not be?6 — Look at the succeeding clause: ‘But a humash may not be rolled up in the wrappings of a sefer torah’, which would imply that there is no objection against wrapping a sefer torah in those of another sefer torah? — The fact is that from this statement no conclusion can be drawn.
Come and hear: ‘A [sefer] torah may be laid on another [sefer] torah, and a [sefer] torah on separate humashim, and separate humashim on scrolls of the prophets and hagiographa, but scrolls of the prophets and hagiographa may not be placed on humashim, nor humashim on a [sefer] torah’! — You speak here of laying; laying is different, because it is impossible to avoid it; for if you do not suppose this, [we may ask,] how are we allowed to roll up the scrolls, seeing that in so doing we lay one sheet on another? The fact is that since this cannot be avoided,it is permitted; and so here also, since it cannot be avoided,7 it is permitted.
Come and hear, since Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said in the name of R. Johanan, who had it from Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel: A man should not sell an old [sefer] torah in order to buy a new one with the proceeds! — There the reason is lest he should [afterwards] neglect to do so; here we speak of a case where the new one is written and waiting to be paid for. What is the rule [in such a case]? — Come and hear, since R. Johanan said in the name of R. Meir: A man should not sell a sefer torah save in order to study the Torah and to marry a wife. From this we may conclude [may we not] that there is no objection against buying one sefer torah with the proceeds of another? — Perhaps study comes under a different rule, since study leads on to practice. Marrying also [is permitted because it says], He created it not a waste, he formed it to be inhabited,’8 but to buy a sefer torah with the proceeds of another is still not permitted.
Come and hear: ‘A man should not sell a sefer torah even though he does not require it. Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel went further and said: Even if a man has no food and he sells a sefer torah or his daughter, he will never have any luck9 [from that money]’.
THE SAME APPLIES TO ANY MONEY LEFT OVER. Raba said: This is the rule only if they had money left over from a sale; but if they had money left over from a collection, it is permitted [to use it for any purpose]. Abaye cited the following in objection to this: ‘When does this rule apply? If they made no stipulation; but if they made a stipulation, they may even give it to the duchsusia’.10 Now how are we to understand this? Shall we say that they [the seven good men] sold [a holy article] and had money left over [after purchasing a new one]? Then even if they made a stipulation [that they could do what they liked with it], what does it avail?11 We must say therefore that they collected money and had some left over, and the reason is given that ‘they made a stipulation’, but if they made no stipulation they cannot? — I still maintain that [what is meant is] that they sold and had something left, and the statement should run thus: ‘When does this rule apply? When the seven "good men" of the town did not make any stipulation in the assembly of the townspeople; but if the seven good men of the town made a stipulation in the assembly of the townspeople, it may be used even for paying a duchsusia’.
Abaye said to a Rabbinical student who used to repeat12 the Mishnah in the presence of R. Shesheth: Have you ever heard from R. Shesheth what is meant by duchsusia? — He replied: This is what R. Shesheth said: The town horseman.13 Abaye thereupon observed: This shows that a Rabbinical student who has heard something of which he does not know the meaning should ask one who is frequently in the company of the Rabbis, since he is almost certain to have heard the answer from some great man.
R. Johanan said in the name of R. Meir: If the representatives of one town14 go [on a visit] to another town and they are there rated for a charity contribution, they should pay it and on leaving they should bring the money with them15 to assist with it the poor of their own town. It has been taught to the same effect: ‘If the men of one town go to another town and are there rated for a charity contribution, they should pay it, and when they leave they should bring the money back with them. If an individual, however, goes to another town and is there rated for a charity contribution, it is given to the poor of that town
R. Huna once proclaimed a fast day. R. Hana b. Hanilai and all the [leading] men of his place happened to visit him [on that day], and they were called upon for a charity contribution, and they gave it. When they were about to leave, they said to him [R. Huna], Kindly return it to us so that we may go and assist with it the poor of our own town. He replied to them: We have learnt: ‘When does this rule apply? When there is no
(1) II Kings XXV, 9.
(2) These words are apparently superfluous and therefore lend themselves to a homiletical exposition.
(3) Isa. XLII, 21.
(4) II Kings VIII, 4.
(5) Because this brings the wrappings to a lower stage of holiness.
(6) And we infer that similarly one sefer torah may not be bought from the proceeds of another.
(7) In point of fact it is now avoided in the synagogue by the device of letting someone hold one sefer torah while another is being read from.
(8) Isa. XLV, 18.
(9) Lit., ‘he will never see a sign of blessing’.
(10) V. infra.
(11) Since the Mishnah expressly says that it is on the same footing as purchase money.
(12) Lit., ‘arrange’.
(13) Whose function it was to take urgent messages to the authorities on behalf of the town.
(14) Lit., ‘Sons of the town, v. supra p. 155, n. 1. [Aliter: ‘a group of people of the same town’ — not necessarily representatives; v. Maim. Mat. ‘Aniyim VII, 14].
(15) I.e., secure repayment.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 27b
town scholar1 in charge there; but if there is a scholar in control there, it should be given to the town scholar, and all the more so in this case, seeing that both my poor and your poor depend upon me.
MISHNAH. [A SYNAGOGUE]2 BELONGING TO A COMMUNITY3 SHOULD NOT BE SOLD TO A PRIVATE PERSON BECAUSE ITS SANCTITY IS [THEREBY] LOWERED. SO R. MEIR. THEY SAID TO HIM: IF SO, IT SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO SELL FROM A LARGER TOWN TO A SMALLER ONE.
GEMARA. That was a sound objection raised by the Rabbis against R. Meir, [was it not]? What says R. Meir to this? — [To sell] from a large town to a small one [is unobjectionable], because if it was holy to begin with, it is still holy now. But if it passes from a community to an individual, there is no holiness left.4 [And what is the reply of] the Rabbis [to this]? — If that raises a scruple [in this case], in the other case also it raised a scruple, because ‘in the multitude of people is the king's glory’.5
MISHNAH. A SYNAGOGUE MAY NOT BE SOLD SAVE WITH THE STIPULATION THAT IT MAY BE BOUGHT BACK [BY THE SELLERS] WHENEVER THEY DESIRE. SO R. MEIR. THE SAGES, HOWEVER, SAY THAT IT MAY BE SOLD IN PERPETUITY, SAVE FOR FOUR PURPOSES-FOR A BATH, FOR A TANNERY, FOR A RITUAL BATH, OR FOR A LAUNDRY. R. JUDAH SAYS: IT MAY BE SOLD FOR [TURNING INTO] A COURTYARD, AND THE PURCHASER MAY DO WHAT HE LIKES WITH IT.
GEMARA. On R. Meir's ruling, how do people live in it? [The rent they pay] would be interest!6 — R. Johanan replied: R. Meir gave this ruling on the basis of the view of R. Judah, who said that interest which is only contingent7 is permitted, as it has been taught:8 ‘If a man lent another a maneh and the latter made a [conditional] sale to him of his field,9 if the vendor takes10 the produce, this is permitted, but if the purchaser takes the produce, it is forbidden.11 R. Judah said that even if the purchaser takes the produce it is permitted. Said R. Judah further: It happened once that Boethus b. Zunin made a sale of his field with the permission of R. Eleazar b. Azariah, and the purchaser took the produce. They said to him: Do you cite that as a proof? It was in fact the vendor who took the produce and not the purchaser’. On what point of principle did they differ? — On the question of contingent interest; one authority [R. Judah] held that contingent interest is permitted, and the other held that it is forbidden. Raba said: All authorities agree that contingent interest is forbidden, and the point at issue is the taking of interest on condition of returning it. One authority [R. Judah] held that to take interest on condition of returning it [when the principal is returned] is permitted,12 while the other held that it is forbidden.
THE SAGES SAY HE MAY SELL IT IN PERPETUITY etc. Rab Judah said in the name of Samuel: It is permitted to a man to make water within four cubits of where prayers have been said. Said R. Joseph: What has he told us? We have already learnt it: R. JUDAH SAYS: IT MAY BE SOLD FOR USE AS A COURTYARD, AND THE PURCHASER MAY DO WHAT HE LIKES IN IT; And even the Rabbis did not forbid save in the synagogue itself, since its sanctity is permanent, but for the four adjoining cubits, the sanctity of which is not permanent,13 they did not make such a rule.
A tanna recited in the presence of R. Nahman: One who has just said prayers may go a distance of four cubits and make water, and one who has made water may go a distance of four cubits and pray. He said to him: I grant you that one who has made water may go four cubits and pray; this we have learnt:14 ‘How far should he remove from it and from excrement? Four cubits’. But why should one who has prayed remove four cubits before making water? If that is the rule, you have sanctified all the streets of Nehardea!15 Say, ‘should wait’ [the time it takes to go four cubits]. [Is that so?] I grant you that one who has made water should wait till he can go four cubits, on account of drippings [on his clothes]. But why should one who has just prayed wait long enough to go four cubits? — R. Ashi replied: Because for the time it takes to go four cubits his mouth is still full of his prayer16 and his lips are still muttering it. (Mnemonic Z'L'P'N’).17 R. Zaccai was asked by his disciples: In virtue of what have you reached such a good old age? He replied: Never in my life have I made water within four cubits of a place where prayers have been said, nor have I given an opprobrious epithet to my fellow, nor have I omitted [to perform] the sanctification of the [Sabbath] day.18 I had a grandmother who once sold her headdress so as to bring me [wine for] the sanctification of the day. It was taught: When she died she left him three hundred barrels of wine, and when he died he left his sons three thousand barrels.
R. Huna once came before Rab girded with a string. He said to him, What is the meaning of this? He replied: I had no [wine for] sanctification, and I pledged my girdle so as to get some. He said: May it be the will of heaven that you be [one day] smothered in robes of silk. On the day when Rabbah his son was married, R. Huna, who was a short man, was lying on a bed and his daughters and daughters-in-law stripped [clothes] from themselves and threw them on him until he was smothered in silks. When Rab heard he was chagrined and said, Why when I blessed you did you not say, The same to you, Sir?19
R. Eleazar b. Shammua’ was asked by his disciples: In virtue of what have you reached such a good old age? He replied: Never in my life have I made a short20 cut through a synagogue, nor have I stepped upon the heads of the holy people,21 nor have I lifted my hands [to say the priestly blessing] without reciting a blessing.22
R. Peridah was asked by his disciples: In virtue of what have you reached such a good old age? He replied: Never in my life have I allowed anyone to be before me at the house of study
(1) חבר עיר. A Rabbi who took a leading part in the town affairs. [Others vocalize חבר ‘a group’ denoting either a town council similar to the Roman Collegia (Krauss) or an official communal religious or charity organization, v. Krauss, Synagogale Altertumer pp. 20ff and Weinberg, M. Jeschurun, 1929 pp. 240ff and 1930, 269ff].
(2) V. Rashi s.v. ורבנן.
(3) Lit., ‘to many’.
(4) Since a quorum of at least ten is required for any act of sanctification (v. supra p. 142) — Rashi.
(5) Prov. XIV, 28. The meaning is that the more worshippers, the greater the glory of God.
(6) I.e.,it becomes interest when the place is bought back and the first purchaser recovers his capital.
(7) Lit., ‘one side in interest
(8) B.M. 63a.
(9) I.e., saying, ‘the field is sold from now if I do not repay’.
(10) Lit., ‘consumes’.
(11) Because if the loan is repaid, this will appear like interest on his maneh.
(12) According to R. Judah, when the loan is repaid, any profit that has been made out of the field in the interval is to be given up. The Rabbis, however, forbid even this since the lender does after all enjoy interest for the time being on the loan. V. B.M., Sonc. ed. p. 376, n. 8.
(13) But it lasts only while prayers are actually being said.
(14) Ber. 22.
(15) For there is no space of four cubits in them in which prayers have not been said by somebody.
(16) Lit., ‘his prayer is ordered in his mouth’.
(17) Z = Zaccai; L = Eleazar; P = Peridah; N = Nehunia.
(18) Kiddush, v. P.B. p. 142.
(19) Because that might also have been fulfilled.
(20) V. infra p. 171, n. 2.
(21) I.e., pushed the disciples out of the way in order to get to his place in the beth ha-midrash. It was the custom there to sit on the ground.
(22) ‘Blessed art thou . . . who hast sanctified us with the sanctity of Aaron’, v. Sot. 39a.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 28a
, nor have I said grace before a kohen,1 nor have I eaten of a beast from which the priestly dues2 have not been given,3 as R. Isaac said in the name of R. Johanan: It is forbidden to eat from an animal from which the priestly dues have not been given; and R. Isaac further said: To eat from an animal from which the priestly dues have not been given is like eating tebel.4 The law, however, is not as stated by him. ‘Nor did I say grace before a kohen’. This implies that this is a meritorious action. But has not R. Johanan said: ‘If a talmid hakam allows even a high priest who is all ignoramus to say grace before him, that talmid hakam commits a mortal offence,5 as it says, All that hate me [mesanne'ai] love death;6 read not mesanne'ai [that hate me], but masni'ai [that make me hated]’?7 — When R. Johanan made this remark, he was thinking of equals.8
R. Nehunia b. ha-Kaneh was asked by his disciples: In virtue of what have you reached such a good old age? He replied: Never in my life have I sought respect through the degradation of my fellow, nor has the curse of my fellow gone up with me upon my bed, and I have been generous with my money.9 ‘I have not sought respect through the degradation of my fellow’, as illustrated by R. Huna who once was carrying a spade on his shoulder when R. Hana b. Hanilai wanted to take it from him, but he said to him, If you are accustomed to carry in your own town, take it, but if not, I do not want to be paid respect through your degradation. ‘Nor did the curse of my fellow go up on my bed with me’. This is illustrated by Mar Zutra, who, when he climbed into his bed said, I forgive all who have vexed me. ‘I have been generous with my money’, as a Master has said, ‘Job was generous with his money; he used to leave with the shopkeeper a perutah10 of his change’. R. Akiba asked R. Nehunia the great: In virtue of what have you reached such a good old age? His attendants came and beat him,11 so he went and sat on the top of a date tree, and said to him: Rabbi, seeing that it says ‘a lamb’, why does it also say ‘one’?12 Thereupon he [R. Nehunia] said, He is a rabbinical student, leave him alone. He then answered his question, saying, ‘One’ means ‘unique in its flock’. Then he said to him: Never in my life have I accepted presents, nor have I insisted on retribution [when wronged],13 and I have been generous with my money. ‘I have not accepted presents’, as illustrated by R. Eleazar, who, when presents were sent to him from the Prince would not accept them and when he was invited there would not go. He said to them: Do you not want me to live, since it says, He that hateth gifts shall live?14 R. Zera, when presents were sent to him from the Prince, would not accept them, but when he was invited there he used to go, saying, They derive honour from my presence. ‘Nor did I insist on retribution’, as Raba said: ‘He who waives his right to retribution15 is forgiven all his sins, as it says, that pardoneth iniquity and passeth by transgression.16 Whose iniquity is forgiven? The iniquity of him who passes by transgression.
Rabbi asked R. Joshua b. Korha: In virtue of what have you reached such a good old age? He said to him: Do you begrudge me my life?17 Said Rabbi to him: This is [a point of] Torah, and it is important for me to learn. He replied: Never in my life have I gazed at the countenance18 of a wicked man; for so R. Johanan said: It is forbidden to a man to gaze at the form of the countenance19 of a wicked man, as it says, Were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee nor see thee.20 R. Eleazar said: His eyes become dim, as it says, And it came to pass that when Isaac was old that his eyes were dim, so that he could not see;21 because he used to gaze at the wicked Esau. But was that the cause? Has not R. Isaac said: Let not the curse of an ordinary person ever seem of small account to thee, for Abimelech cursed Sarah, and it was fulfilled in her seed, as it says, Behold he is for thee a covering [kesuth] of the eyes.22 Read not ‘kesuth’ but ‘kesiyath’ [blinding]? — Both caused the affliction. Raba said. We learn it from here, It is not good to respect the person of the wicked.23 When he was about to depart life, Rabbi said to him, Bless me. He said to him: May it be heaven's will that you attain to half my days. Not to their whole length [he exclaimed]? Shall those who succeed you,24 [he replied] pasture cattle?25
Abbuha b. Ihi and Minyamin b. Ihi [both left sayings on this subject]. One said: May I be rewarded26 because I have never gazed at a Cuthean, and the other said, May I be rewarded because I have never gone into partnership with a Cuthean.
R. Zera was asked by his disciples: In virtue of what have you reached such a good old age? He replied: Never in my life have I been harsh with my household, nor have I stepped in front of one greater than myself, nor have I meditated on the Torah in filthy alleys,27 nor have I gone four cubits without Torah28 and tefillin,29 nor have I slept in the beth ha-midrash,29 either a long or a short sleep,30 nor have I rejoiced in the downfall of my fellow, nor have I called my fellow by his nickname,
(or, as some report, ‘family nickname’).31
MISHNAH. R. JUDAH SAID FURTHER:32 IF A SYNAGOGUE HAS FALLEN INTO RUINS, IT IS NOT RIGHT TO DELIVER FUNERAL ORATIONS THEREIN NOR TO WIND ROPES33 NOR TO SPREAD NETS NOR TO LAY OUT PRODUCE ON THE ROOF [TO DRY] NOR TO USE IT AS A SHORT CUT,34 AS IT SAYS, AND I WILL BRING YOUR SANCTUARIES UNTO DESOLATION,35 [WHICH IMPLIES THAT] THEIR HOLINESS REMAINS EVEN WHEN THEY ARE DESOLATE. IF GRASS COMES UP IN THEM, IT SHOULD NOT BE PLUCKED, SO AS TO EXCITE COMPASSION.36
GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: ‘Synagogues must not be treated disrespectfully. It is not right to eat or to drink in them
(1) But invariably gave him precedence, v. Git. 59b.
(2) The shoulder, the two cheeks and the maw. Deut. XVIII, 3.
(3) Bah. reverses the order of the two last clauses.
(4) Produce from which the priestly and levitical dues have not been separated.
(5) [Lit., ‘deserves death’, a recurring rabbinic phrase not to be taken literally but merely as expressing strong indignation].
(6) Prov. VIII, 36. Wisdom is speaking.
(7) The talmid hakam makes wisdom hated by allowing the ignoramus to have precedence.
(8) I.e., where the priest is also a talmid hakam, even though not of equal standing (Tosaf.).
(9) Lit., ‘ready to excuse with my money’.
(10) V. Glos.
(11) For asking such a question, v. infra.
(12) Num. XXVIII, 4, of the daily sacrifice: one lamb in the evening where ‘a lamb’ would have been sufficient.
(13) Lit., ‘insisted on my measures’.
(14) Prov. XV, 27.
(15) Lit., ‘passes by his measures’.
(16) Micah VII, 18.
(17) That you ask me such a question.
(18) Lit., ‘likeness’, with reference to Gen. I, 26.
(19) Lit., ‘image of the likeness V. ibid.
(20) II Kings III, 14. Spoken by Elisha to Jehoram.
(21) Gen. XXVII, 1.
(22) Ibid. XX, 16.
(23) Prov. XVIII, 5.
(24) Your children (Rashi).
(25) They will also be scholars, and if you live too long, they will not enjoy a position of dignity.
(26) Lit., ‘let it come to me’.
(27) V. Ber. 24b.
(28) I.e., without conning words of Torah.
(29) V. Glos.
(30) Lit., ‘a fixed or an accidental sleep’.
(31) So Rashi. According to Maharsha the reading should be ‘my nickname, i.e., a name of reproach which he himself would reject. [According to some edd. there is no difference in the meaning but in the Hebrew word used to express ‘nickname’, in the former version it is hakinah, in the latter hanikah].
(32) The point of the word ‘further’ is not clear, as R. Judah was the most lenient of the authorities quoted in the last Mishnah, and this Mishnah contains restrictions. V. Tosaf.
(33) This is taken as typical of any kind of rough work which needs a great deal of room such as a synagogue would provide (Rashi).
(34) קפנדריא, compendiaria, sc. via.
(35) Lev. XXVI, 31.
(36) In the beholders, and make them pray for the restoration of the holy place.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 28b
, nor to dress up in them, nor to stroll about in them, nor to go into them in summer to escape the heat and in the rainy season to escape the rain, nor to deliver a private funeral address1 in them. But it is right to read [the Scriptures] in them and to repeat the Mishnah and to deliver public funeral addresses.2 R. Judah said: When is this? When they are still in use; but when they are abandoned, grass is allowed to grow in them, and it should not be plucked, so as to excite compassion’. Who was speaking about grass? — There is an omission, and the statement should read thus: ‘They should be swept and watered so that grass should not grow in them. R. Judah said: When is this? When they are in use; but when they are abandoned, grass is allowed to grow in them; if grass does grow, it is not plucked, so that it may excite compassion
R. Assi said: The synagogues of Babylon have been built with a stipulation,3 and even so they must not be treated disrespectfully. What [for instance] is this? — Doing calculations [for business purposes] in them. R. Assi said: A synagogue in which people make calculations is used for keeping a dead body in over night. You actually think it is used for keeping a dead body in? — Is there no way otherwise? But [say] in the end a meth mizwah4 will be kept there over night.
‘Nor to dress up in it’. Raba said: The Sages and their disciples are permitted — since R. Joshua b. Levi has said: What is the meaning of ‘Be Rabbanan’?5 The Rabbis’ house.
‘Nor to go into them in summer to escape the heat and in the rainy season to escape the rain’. For instance, Rabina and R. Ada b. Mattenah were once standing and asking questions of Raba when a shower of rain came on. They went into the synagogue, saying, Why we have gone into the synagogue is not because of the rain, but because the discussion of a legal point requires clarity, like a clear day.6
R. Aha the son of Raba asked R. Ashi: If a man has occasion to call another out of synagogue, what is he to do? He replied: If he is a rabbinical student, let him say some halachah; if he is a tanna,7 let him repeat a Mishnah; if he is a Kara,8 let him say a verse of Scripture; if none of these, let him say to a child, ‘Repeat me the last verse you have learnt’; or else let him stay a little while and then get up.
‘To deliver public funeral addresses9 in them’. What is meant by a public funeral address? — R. Hisda gave as an example, For instance, a funeral address at which R. Shesheth is present.10 R. Shesheth mentioned as an example: For instance, a funeral address at which R. Hisda is present.11 Rafram had a funeral address delivered for his daughter-in-law in the synagogue, saying, To pay honour to me and to the dead12 all the people will come.13
R. Zera delivered a funeral address for a certain rabbinicai student in the synagogue, saying, Whether to pay honour to me or to pay honour to the dead, all the public will come.
Resh Lakish delivered a funeral address for a certain rabbinical student who frequented the Land of Israel and who used to repeat halachoth14 before twenty-four rows [of disciples]. He said: Alas! The Land of Israel has lost a great man. [On the other hand] there was a certain man who used to repeat halachoth, Sifra and Sifre and Tosefta,15 and when he died they came and said to R. Nahman, Sir, will you deliver a funeral oration for him, and he said, How are we to deliver over him an address: Alas! A bag full of books has been lost!16 Observe now the difference between the rigorous scholars of the Land of Israel and the saints of Babylon.17
We have learnt in another place:18 ‘Whoever makes use of a crown, passeth away [from the world]’ and Resh Lakish commented: This applies to one who accepts service from one who can repeat halachoth, and ‘Ulla said: A man may accept service from one who can repeat the four [orders of the Mishnah]19 but not from one who can [also] teach20 them. This is illustrated by the following story of Resh Lakish, he was once traveling along a road when he came to a pool of water, and a man came up and put him on his shoulders and began taking him across. He said to the man: Can you read20 the Scriptures? He answered, I can. Can you repeat the Mishnah? [He replied], I can repeat four orders of the Mishnah. Resh Lakish thereupon said: You have hewn four rocks, and you carry Resh Lakish on your shoulder? Throw the son of Lakisha into the water! He replied: I would sooner that your honour tell me something.21 If so, he replied, learn from me this dictum which was enunciated by R. Zera: ‘The daughters of Israel imposed spontaneously upon themselves the restriction that if they saw [on their garments] a spot of blood no bigger than a mustard seed, they waited for seven days without issue [before taking a ritual bath].22
It was taught in the Tanna debe Eliyyahu:23 ‘Whoever repeats halachoth may rest assured that he is destined for the future world, as it says, His goings [halikoth] are to eternity.24 Read not halikoth but halachoth’.
Our Rabbis taught:
(1) I.e., one not attended by the general public.
(2) V. infra.
(3) That they may be used for various purposes.
(4) As punishment many will die and there will be no near relatives found to attend to their burial. V. Glos.
(5) Lit., ‘at the Rabbis’, the common name for the College, exactly equivalent to the French chez les Rabbins, be being a contraction of beth (the house of).
(6) Lit., ‘a day of the north wind’. They could not think clearly in the rain.
(7) V. Glos. s.v. (b).
(8) Lit., ‘reader’; one who could recite correctly the Scriptures by heart; v. Supra p. 133, n. 5.
(9) Heb. hesped. This was an address in honour of the dead designed to evoke lamentation and mourning, and often delivered by a professional orator called a safdan.
(10) Lit., ‘a hesped at which R. Shesheth stands’. (V. Maharsha).
(11) R. Shesheth and R. Hisda desired to pay compliments to one another.
(12) Rashi reads: Whether to pay honour to me or to the dead.
(13) This makes it a public funeral address.
(14) Traditional teachings.
(15) Sifra is the halachah midrash on Leviticus; Sifre the halachic midrash on Num. V to the end of Deuteronomy; Tosefta the Baraitha of R. Hiyya; v. Sanh. Sonc. ed., p. 567, n. 1.
(16) As much as to say, that would not redound to his praise: he could only repeat these books parrot-like, but did not know what they meant.
(17) Resh Lakish was from Palestine, R. Nahman from Babylon. On the rigour of the former v. Yoma 9b; on the saintliness of the latter v. Sot. 49b.
(18) Ab. I.
(19) Apparently the Orders of Zera'im and Toharoth were not considered so necessary as no longer having practical application (V. Maharsha).
(20) I.e., explain.
(21) So that he might be indebted to Resh Lakish and be allowed to perform service for him.
(22) Whereas the law demanded this only if an issue was observed three days running, during the eleven days between the menses, v. supra P. 44, n. 4.
(23) I.e., in a Baraitha attributed to Elijah; v. Keth., Sonc. ed. p. 680, n. 2.
(24) Hab. III, 6. E.V. ‘as of old’.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 29a
The study of the Torah may be suspended for escorting a dead body to the burying place and a bride to the canopy. It was recorded of R. Judah b. Ila'i that he used to suspend the study of the Torah for escorting a dead body to the burying place and a bride to the canopy. When does this rule [regarding the dead] apply? When there are not present sufficient numbers [to pay him due honour]; but if sufficient numbers are available, [the study of the Torah] is not suspended. What numbers are sufficient?-R. Samuel b. Inia said in the name of Rab: Twelve thousand and [in addition] six thousand trumpets, or, as according to another version, twelve thousand men of whom six thousand have trumpets. Ulla said: Enough to make a procession extending from the burying ground to the town gate. R. Shesheth said: The withdrawal of the Torah1 should correspond to its delivery:2 as its delivery was in the presence of sixty myriads, so its withdrawal should be accompanied by sixty myriads. This applies to one who knew by heart Scripture and Mishnah; but for one who [also] taught the Mishnah there is no limit.3
It has been taught: R. Simon b. Yohai said: Come and see how beloved are Israel in the sight of God, in that to every place to which they were exiled the Shechinah went with them. They were exiled to Egypt and the Shechinah was with them, as it says, Did I reveal myself unto the house of thy father when they were in Egypt.4 They were exiled to Babylon, and the Shechinah was with them, as it says, for your sake I was sent to Babylon.5 And when they will be redeemed in the future, the Shechinah will be with them, as it says, Then the Lord thy God will return [with] thy captivity.6 It does not say here we-heshib [and he shall bring back] but we-shab [and he shall return]. This teaches us that the Holy One, blessed be He, will return with them from the places of exile.
Where [is the Shechinah] in Babylon?-Abaye said: In the synagogue of Huzal7 and in the synagogue of Shaf-weyathib8 in Nehardea. Do not, however, imagine that it is in both places,9 but it is sometimes in one and sometimes in the other. Said Abaye: May I be rewarded10 because whenever I am within a parasang11 I go in and pray there.
The father of Samuel and Levi were sitting in the synagogue which ‘moved and settled’ in Nehardea. The Shechinah came and they heard a sound of tumult and rose and went out. R. Shesheth was once sitting in the synagogue which ‘moved and settled’ in Nehardea, when the Shechinah came. He did not go out, and the ministering angels came and threatened him. He turned to him and said: Sovereign of the Universe, if one is afflicted12 and one is not afflicted, who gives way to whom? God thereupon said to them: Leave him.
Yet have I been to them as a little sanctuary.13 R. Isaac said: This refers to the synagogue and houses of learning in Babylon. R. Eleazar says: This refers to the house of our teacher14 in Babylon.
Raba gave the following exposition: What is the meaning of the verse, Lord, thou hast been our dwelling [ma'on] place?15 This refers to synagogues and houses of learning. Abaye said: Formerly I used to study at home and pray in the synagogue, but when I noticed16 the words of David, O Lord, I love the habitation [me'on] of thy house,17 I began to study also in the synagogue.
It has been taught: R. Eleazar ha-Kappar says: The synagogues and houses of learning in Babylon will in time to come be planted in Eretz Israel, as it says, For as Tabor among the mountains and as Carmel by the sea came.18 Now can we not draw an inference here a fortiori: Seeing that Carmel and Tabor which came only on a single occasion to learn the Torah are implanted in Eretz Israel, how much more must this be the case with the synagogues and houses of learning where the Torah is read and expounded!19
Bar Kappara gave the following exposition: What is the meaning of the verse, Why look ye askance [terazedun], ye mountains of peaks.20 A bath kol21 went forth and said to them: Why do ye desire litigation [tirzu din] with Sinai? Ye are all full of blemishes as compared with Sinai. It is written here gabnunim [with peaks], and it is written elsewhere or crookbacked [gibben] or a dwarf.22 R. Ashi observed: You can learn from this that if a man is arrogant, this is a blemish in him.
IT SHOULD NOT BE USED AS A SHORT CUT [KAPANDRIA]. What is kapandria?23 Raba said: Kapandria is as its name implies. What does its name imply? As if one were to say, Instead of going round the block [‘makifna adare], I will go through here. R. Abbahu said: If a road passed through there originally,24 it is permitted. R. Nahman b. Isaac said: If one goes in without any intention of using it as a short cut, he may afterwards use it as a short cut. And R. Helbo said in the name of R. Huna: If one enters a synagogue to pray, he may25 afterwards use it as a short cut, as it says, But when, the people of the land shall come before the Lord at the appointed seasons, he that entereth by way of the north gate to worship shall go forth by way of the south gate.26
IF GRASS HAS GROWN IN IT, IT SHOULD NOT BE PLUCKED, SO AS TO EXCITE COMPASSION. But it has been taught: ‘It should not be plucked and given as food [to cattle], but it may be plucked and left there’? — The statement in our Mishnah also refers to plucking and giving for food.
Our Rabbis taught: ‘Burying grounds must not be treated disrespectfully. Cattle should not be fed in them, nor should a watercourse be turned through them, nor should grass be plucked in them, and if it is plucked, it should be burnt on the spot, out of respect for the dead’. To what do these last words apply? Shall I say, to the last clause? If it is burnt on the spot, what respect does this show for the dead? It must be then to the preceding clauses.
MISHNAH. IF THE NEW MOON OF ADAR FALLS ON SABBATH, THE PORTION OF SHEKALIM27 IS READ [ON THAT DAY]. IF IT FALLS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WEEK, IT IS READ ON THE SABBATH BEFORE, AND ON THE NEXT SABBATH THERE IS A BREAK.28 ON THE SECOND [OF THE SPECIAL SABBATHS] ZAKOR29 IS READ, ON THE THIRD THE PORTION OF THE RED HEIFER,30 ON THE FOURTH THIS MONTH SHALL BE TO YOU.’31 ON THE FIFTH THE REGULAR ORDER32 IS RESUMED. [THE REGULAR READING]33 IS INTERRUPTED FOR ANY SPECIAL OCCASION: FOR NEW MOONS, FOR HANUKKAH, FOR PURIM, FOR FASTS, FOR MA'AMADOTH,34 AND FOR THE DAY OF ATONEMENT.35
GEMARA. We have learnt in another place: ‘On the first of Adar proclamation is made with regard to the shekels36
(1) I.e., the burial of a learned man.
(2) At Mount Sinai.
(3) V. Keth. 17a.
(4) I Sam. II, 27. This is taken to mean that God revealed himself to Aaron in Egypt even before Moses came.
(5) Isa. XLIII, 14. E.V. (incorrectly) ‘have sent’.
(6) Deut. XXX, 3.
(7) V. supra p. 26 n. 1. Sherira Gaon, in his Epistle (ed. Lewin p. 73) locates it ‘near the Beth Hamidrash of Ezra the Scribe, below Nehardea’].
(8) שף ויתיב Lit., ‘that moved and settled’. The name for a synagogue in Nehardea which according to tradition was built with materials brought by King Jeconiah and his companions from Jerusalem at the time of the first captivity. [For this tradition v. Sherira Gaon op. cit. p. 72-3, where the passage is also found with variants: Rab said in the synagogue of Huzal, Samuel said in the synagogue of Shaf-weyathib in Nehardea. The name is also spelled שפיתיב and is regarded by some as being a name of a place, v. Krauss, Synagogale Altertumer pp. 214ff and Obermeyer pp. 299ff].
(9) Lit., ‘here and there’. [Sherira Gaon: ‘here and not there’].
(10) Lit., ‘may it come to me’.
(11) Of either of these synagogues.
(12) R. Shesheth was blind.
(13) Ezek. XI, 16.
(14) Rab. [The reference is to the venerable old Synagogue founded by Rab in Sura of which there is frequent mention in the Geonic Responsa; v. Krauss, Synagogale, Altertumer, p. 221 and Ginzberg, Geonica, p. 41].
(15) Ps. XC, 1.
(16) Lit., ‘heard’ or ‘understood’. This means apparently that his attention was called to them by the exposition of Raba.
(17) Ibid. XXVI, 8.
(18) Jer. XLVI, 18. E.V. ‘As Tabor... he shall come’. According to tradition these two mountains (or their angelic guardians) came to Sinai at the giving of the Law.
(19) Lit., ‘spread (learning among many)’.
(20) Ps. LXVIII, 17. According to tradition, all the mountains were jealous of Sinai.
(21) V. Glos.
(22) Lev. XXI, 20.
(23) V. supra p. 171,n. 2.
(24) I.e., before the synagogue was built.
(25) According to Asheri, this is not only permitted but is a duty.
(26) Ezek. XLVI, 9.
(27) The Gemara discusses what this is.
(28) In the series of four special Sabbaths; v. supra p. 32, n. 5.
(29) Deut. XXV, 17-19; on account of Purim.
(30) Num. XIX, calling the people's attention to the need of ritual cleanness for participating in the Paschal lamb soon to be offered.
(31) Ex. XII; on account of the proximity of Passover.
(32) V. Gemara infra.
(33) The Pentateuch is divided into a number of portions (sidra), one to be read on each Sabbath of the year, commencing with the Sabbath after Tabernacles. The opening verses of each weekly portion are also read on Sabbath afternoon, and in the morning service on the Monday and Thursday of that week. It is the weekday reading that is here primarily referred to.
(34) V. Glos.
(35) In the Minhah service, even when it falls on Sabbath (v. Tosaf.).
(36) The so-called terumath halishkah, contributions to the shekel chamber to provide the daily sacrifices for the coming year.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 29b
and with regard to diverse seeds.1 I can understand it being made for diverse seeds, because it is the time for sowing.2 But what is the ground for making it for the shekels? — R. Tabi said in the name of R. Josiah: Because Scripture says, This is the burnt-offering of each new moon in its renewal.3 The Torah herein says to us: As you renew the month, bring an offering from the new contributions. And since it is in Nisan that we have to bring from the new contributions,4 we read beforehand on the first of Adar so that shekels should be brought [in time] to the Sanctuary. With whose view does this accord? Not with that of R. Simeon b. Gamaliel. For if you take the view of R. Simeon b. Gamaliel, he requires [only] two weeks’ [notice], as it has been taught: ‘Moot points in the law of Passover are considered5 from thirty days before Passover; R. Simeon b. Gamaliel, however, says, from two weeks before’. You may even say it accords with the view of R. Simeon b. Gamaliel. For since a Master has said that ‘on the fifteenth of this month [Adar] tables6 are set up in the provinces and on the twenty-fifth in the Sanctuary’,7 On account of the tables we read beforehand [on the first of Adar].8
What is the portion of Shekalim? — Rab said, Commanded the children of Israel and say unto them My food which is presented unto me,9 Samuel said, When thou takest.10 We call well see how, according to the one who says the portion is ‘When thou takest’, it is called the portion of Shekalim, because shekalim are mentioned in it. But according to the one who says it is ‘My food which is presented to me’, — are shekels mentioned there? — Yes; the reason is based on the dictum of R. Tabi.11 I can well understand [the reason of] the one who says that ‘Command the children of Israel’ [should be read], because sacrifices are mentioned in it. But according to the one who says that ‘When thou takest’ should be read, are sacrifices mentioned there? It is the shekels for the sockets that are mentioned there!12 — [The reason is] as R. Joseph learnt: ‘There were three contributions;13 of the altar for the altar,14 of the sockets for the sockets, and of the repair of the House for the repair of the House’.15 There is a justification for the one who says that ‘When thou takest’ should be read, because he thus makes a difference between this New Moon and other New Moons. But the one who says that ‘Command the children of Israel’ should be read — what difference does he make?16 — He does make a difference, because on other New Moons17 six read in the portion of the day18 and one that of New Moon, whereas on this occasion all read in that of New Moon. This is a good answer for one who says that [when the Mishnah says that the ‘REGULAR ORDER’ IS RESUMED it means] ‘the regular order of portions’; but according to the one who says that [what it means is that] the order of haftarahs19 is resumed [and the order of Pentateuch portions has not been interrupted], what difference is there [between this New Moon and others]? — There is a difference, because on other New Moons six read in the portion of the day18 and one the special portion for New Moon, whereas on this occasion three read in the portion of the day and four in that of New Moon.
On objection was raised:20 ‘When the New Moon of Adar falls on Sabbath, the portion of Shekalim is read, and the chapter of Jehoiada the Priest21 is said as haftarah’. Now according to the one who says that ‘When thou takest’ should be said, there is a good reason for reading Jehoiada the Priest as haftarah because it is similar in subject,22 as it is written [there], the money of the persons for whom each man is rated.23 But according to the one who says that ‘My food which is presented to me’ is read, is there any similarity? — There is, on the basis of R. Tabi's dictum.24
The following was then cited in objection: ‘If it [the New Moon of Adar] falls on the portion next to it [the portion of Shekalim], whether before or after, they read it and repeat it’. Now this creates no difficulty for one who holds that ‘When thou takest’ is read because [the regular portion containing this passage] falls about that time.25 But according to the one who says that ‘My food which is presented to ‘me’ is read — does [the portion containing that passage] fall about that time?26 — Yes, for the people of Palestine, who complete the reading of the Pentateuch in three years.27
It has been taught in agreement with Samuel: ‘When the New Moon of Adar falls on Sabbath, the portion ‘When thou takest’ is read, and the haftarah is about ‘Jehoiada the Priest’.
R. Isaac Nappaha said: When the New Moon of Adar falls on Sabbath, three scrolls of the Law are taken out [of the Ark], and read out of — from one the portion of the day, from one the portion of New Moon,28 and from one ‘When thou takest’. R. Isaac b. Nappaha also said: When the New Moon of Tebeth falls on Sabbath, three scrolls of the Law are brought and read out of; from one the regular portion, from a second the portion of New Moon, and from the third that of Hanukkah.29 Both statements are required. For if only the latter had been given, [I might think that] in this case R. Isaac required [three scrolls], but in the other case he followed the view of Rab who said that the portion of Shekalim is ‘My food which is presented to me’, and therefore two would be enough. Therefore we are told that this is not so. But why not state the former [only] and the other would not need to be stated? — One was inferred from the other.30
It was stated: If the New Moon of Tebeth falls on a weekday, R. Isaac [Nappaha] says that three read the portion of New Moon and one the portion of Hanukkah. R. Dimi from Haifa, however, says that three read the portion of Hanukkah and one that of New Moon. Said R. Mani: The opinion of R. Isaac Nappaha is the more probable, because when it is a question between the regular and the intermittent, the regular takes precedence.31 R. Abin, however, said: The opinion of R. Dimi is the more probable. For what is it that causes a fourth man to read?32 The New Moon. Therefore the fourth ought to read the portion of the New Moon. What do we decide? — R. Joseph said: We take no notice of New Moon,33 while Rabbah said, We take no notice of Hanukkah. The law, however, is that we take no notice of Hanukkah,’ and New Moon is the main consideration.
It was stated: ‘If it [the Sabbath of Shekalim] falls when the portion ‘And thou shalt command’34 is read, then six persons read from ‘And thou shalt command’ to ‘When thou takest’, and one from ‘When thou takest’ to ‘Thou shalt also make’.35 Abaye remarked:
(1) That it is time to pluck them up, if any have appeared, v. Shek. I, 1.
(2) More precisely, sprouting (v. Tosaf.).
(3) Num. XXVIII, 14.
(4) This is derived in R.H. 7a from the words ‘for the months of the year’ in this text.
(5) Lit., ‘one asks concerning the laws of Passover’.
(6) For changing smaller coins into shekels.
(7) Shek. I, 3.
(8) The two weeks before the tables are set up.
(9) Num. XXVIII, 2. This is the portion always read on New Moon.
(10) Ex. XXX, 12ff
(11) Who said that shekels are to be brought in Adar for the congregational sacrifices.
(12) As we learn from Ex. XXXVIII, 26-28.
(13) The word terumah occurs three times in Ex. XXX, 12ff.
(14) For the purchase of congregational sacrifices for the altar.
(15) So that congregational sacrifices are also referred to in Ex. XXX, 12ff.
(16) Since this is the portion actually read on every other new moon.
(17) That fall on Sabbath.
(18) The Pentateuchal portion of the particular week cf. p. 178, n. 6.
(19) V. Glos. The special feature of the reading is that the one who is called up maftir reads a special portion appropriate for the day instead of the one in the sequence of the weeks.
(20) Against the view that the portion of Shekalim is from Num. XXVIII.
(21) 11 Kings XII.
(22) The prophetical reading (haftarah) must always have some resemblance in subject matter to the Pentateuchal lesson of the day.
(23) Ibid. 5.
(24) V. p. 179, n. 7.
(25) The portion Ki Thisa in which this passage occurs usually falls on a Sabbath about the beginning of Adar.
(26) This passage is in the portion Pinhas, which usually falls about the middle of Tammuz.
(27) This is known as the Triennial Cycle.
(28) Num. XXVIII, 1-15.
(29) In Num. VII. Hanukkah lasts from Kislev 25 to Tebeth 2 or 3.
(30) I.e., the statement about Hanukkah was given not as a tradition but as an inference.
(31) New Moon comes every month, Hanukkah only every twelve months.
(32) On the other days of Hanukkah only three read.
(33) I.e., we do not make it the first consideration.
(34) The portion Tezaweh from Ex. XXVII, 20 to XXX, 10, which is followed by the portion Ki Thissa.
(35) lbid. XXX, 11-16. I.e., six read the portion of Tezaweh and one the portion of Shekalim which immediately follows.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 30a
If that is done, people will say that that is where they stop.1 No, said Abaye; six read from ‘And thou shalt command’ to ‘Thou shalt also make’, and one repeats and reads from ‘When thou takest’ to ‘Thou shalt also make’.
The following was cited in objection to this: ‘If it [the Sabbath of Shekalim] falls on the Sabbath of the portion adjoining it, whether just before or just after,2 it is read and repeated’. Now if we accept the view of Abaye, this is quite in harmony with it; but on the view of R. Isaac Nappaha, it does conflict with it,3 [does it not]? — R. Isaac Nappaha can answer you: And on the view of Abaye does it create no difficulty? We may allow the Sabbath before it, but if it falls on the Sabbath after, where do you find a repetition? What you have to say in fact is that [according to Abaye] this portion [of Shekalim] is read on two successive Sabbaths;4 so l too can answer that it is read on two successive Sabbaths.
If it falls on the portion of ‘When thou takest’ itself, R. Isaac Nappaha says that six read from ‘Thou shalt also make’ to ‘And Moses assembled’,5 and one from ‘When thou takest’ to ‘Thou shalt also make’. Abaye strongly demurred to this, saying, Now people will say that we are reading backwards!6 No, said Abaye; Six read to ‘And Moses assembled’, and one repeats from ‘When thou takest’ to ‘Thou shalt also make’. It has been taught in agreement with Abaye: ‘If it falls on [the Sabbath of] ‘When thou takest itself, it is read on the Sabbath before’.
It was stated: ‘If the new moon of Adar falls on Friday, Rab says that [the portion of Shekalim] is read on the Sabbath before, while Samuel says that it is read on the Sabbath after’. Rab says it is read before, because otherwise there will be a shortage in the days of the tables.7 Samuel says it is read after, because after all the fifteenth day [from the new moon] falls on a Friday, and the tables will not be taken out till the Sunday; therefore we delay the reading [of the portion of Shekalim].
We have learnt: IF IT FALLS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WEEK, IT IS READ ON THE SABBATH BEFORE, AND ON THE NEXT SABBATH THERE IS A BREAK. Does not this rule apply even where it falls on Friday? — No; only if it falls actually in the middle part of the week.
Come and hear: ‘Which is the first Sabbath [of the series]? That in the week succeeding which the new moon of Adar falls, even if it is on the Friday’. Now do not the words ‘even on Friday’ here [put Friday] on the same footing as the middle of the week, so that just as when it falls in the middle of the week we read before, so when it falls on Friday we read before? — Said Samuel: [The words ‘in the middle’ here mean], ‘on it’ .8 So too a Tanna of the school of Samuel taught: ‘On it’. The same difference of opinion is found between Tannaim: ‘An interruption can be made [in the series] of Sabbaths. This is the ruling of R. Judah the Prince.9 R. Simeon b. Eleazar says: No interruption is made. Said R. Simeon b. Eleazar: When do I rule that no interruption may be made? When it [new moon] falls on Friday;10 but if it falls in the middle of the week, it [the portion of Shekalim] is read on the Sabbath before, even though that is still in Shebat’.11
ON THE SECOND ZAKOR etc. It was stated: If Purim falls on Friday, Rab says that the portion of Zakor is read on the Sabbath before, while Samuel says it is read on the Sabbath after. Rab says it is read on the Sabbath before, so that the celebration [of Purim] should not precede the commemoration [of the miracle]. Samuel says on the Sabbath after; he can argue that since there are the walled cities which celebrate on the fifteenth, celebration and commemoration come together.
We learnt: ON THE SECOND ZAKOR. Now when the new moon [of Adar] is on Sabbath, Purim falls on Friday, and he states ON THE SECOND ZAKOR?12 — R. Papa replied: What is meant by ‘second’ here? The second to the break.13
Come and hear: ‘Which is the second Sabbath? That in the week following which Purim falls, even if on Friday’. Now is not the Friday here mentioned meant to be on the same footing as the middle of the week, so that just as when it falls in the middle of the week we read before, so when it falls on Friday we read before? Said Samuel: [The proper reading is] ‘on it’;14 and so a Tanna of the school of Samuel taught, ‘On it’.
If it falls on Sabbath itself. R. Huna said, All authorities concur that the portion of Zakor is not read on the Sabbath before, whereas R. Nahman said, There is a difference of opinion on this point also. It was also stated: ‘R. Hiyya b. Abba said in the name of R. Abba, who had it from Rab: If Purim falls on Sabbath, Zakor is read on the Sabbath before’.
ON THE THIRD THE PORTION OF THE RED HEIFER etc. Our Rabbis taught: Which is the third Sabbath? The one which follows Purim. It was stated: R. Hama b. Hanina said: The Sabbath next to the new moon of Nisan. There is no conflict [between these two statements]; the one refers to where the new moon of Nisan falls on Sabbath,15 and the other to where it falls in the middle of the week.16
ON THE FOURTH, THIS MONTH SHALL BE TO YOU. Our Rabbis taught: If the new moon of Adar falls on Sabbath, we read Ki Thissa17 and [the account of] Jehoiada as haftarah. Which is the first Sabbath? The one in the week following which the new moon of Adar falls, even if on Friday. On the second Sabbath Zakor is read, and for haftarah, I have visited.18 Which is the second Sabbath? The one in the week following which Purim falls, even if on Friday. On the third Sabbath the portion of the Red Heifer is read, and for haftarah, And I shall sprinkle on you.19 Which is the third Sabbath? The one which follows Purim. On the fourth ‘This month’20 is read, and for haftarah, Thus saith the Lord God, in the first month on the first of the month.21
(1) I.e.,that the portion of Tezaweh extends to XXX, 16.
(2) I.e., the portion of Tezaweh or that of Wa-yakhel.
(3) Because there is no doubling according to R. Isaac Nappaha.
(4) Lit., ‘he doubles it on Sabbaths’. Once qua Shekalim, and once as part of Ki Thissa; and this is the meaning of the word ‘repeated’ in the Baraitha quoted.
(5) The beginning of the portion next to Ki Thissa — the portion Wa-yakhel. I. e., the whole portion Ki Thissa, commencing from Ex. XXX, 17 up to XXXIV, 35.
(6) Because the first verses of the portion (11-16) are read last.
(7) I.e., two full weeks will not elapse between the proclamation of the Shekalim and the setting of the tables on Adar 15.
(8) Viz., on the Sabbath itself.
(9) I.e., his version of the statement in the Mishnah was, ‘Which is the first Sabbath? That on which etc.
(10) In which case even if it is read on the Sabbath after it would not affect the ‘tables’ as stated supra.
(11) The month preceding Adar.
(12) ‘Second’ being taken to mean the second Sabbath of the month.
(13) I.e., the Sabbath after the one on which there is no special portion.
(14) V. supra.
(15) In which case the ‘portion of the red heifer’ is read on the Sabbath preceding it.
(16) In which case the ‘portion of the month’ is read on the Sabbath preceding it.
(17) I.e., the portion of Shekalim.
(18) 1 Sam. XV.
(19) Ezek. XXXVI, 22ff
(20) Ex. XII, 1-20.
(21) Ezek. XLV, 18.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 30b
Which is the fourth Sabbath? — The one immediately preceding the week in which the new moon of Nisan falls, even if on Friday.
ON THE FIFTH THE REGULAR ORDER IS RESUMED. What order? — R. Ammi said: The order of weekly portions: R. Jeremiah said, The order of haftarahs is resumed. Said Abaye: The opinion of R. Ammi is the more probable, Since we learnt: THE REGULAR READING IS INTERRUPTED FOR ANY SPECIAL OCCASION FOR NEW MOONS, FOR HANUKKAH, FOR PURIM, FOR FASTS, FOR MA'AMADOTH AND FOR THE DAY OF ATONEMENT. This accords well with the opinion of the one who says that the order of weekly portions is resumed,1 seeing that a portion [of the Law] is read on weekdays.2 But on the view of him who says that the order of haftarahs is resumed — is there any haftarah on [ordinary] weekdays?3 [What says] the other to this? — The one rule holds where it applies, and the other where it applies.4 But on fast days [according to R. Jeremiah], why should there be an interruption [of the regular portion]? Let us read in the morning from the portion of the week and at Minhah on the subject of the fast? — [R. Jeremiah's ruling] supports R. Huna; for R. Huna said: ‘In the morning of fast days there is a public assembly’.5 How do we act? Abaye said: From the morning to midday we examine the affairs of the town;6 from midday to evening, for a quarter of the day we read the portion of the Law and the haftarah, and for a quarter we offer up supplications as it says, And they read in the book of the law of their Lord a fourth part of the day, and another part they confessed and prostrated themselves before the Lord their God.7 But cannot I interpret this in the reverse way?8 — Do not imagine such a thing, since it is written, Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel because of the faithlessness of them of the captivity and I sat appalled unto the evening offering;9 and it goes on, And at the evening offering I arose up from my fasting.10
MISHNAH. ON PASSOVER WE READ FROM THE SECTION OF THE FESTIVALS IN LEVITICUS.11 ON PENTECOST, ‘SEVEN WEEKS’12 ON NEW YEAR, ‘ON THE SEVENTH DAY ON THE FIRST OF THE MONTH’;13 ON THE DAY OF ATONEMENT, ‘AFTER THE DEATH’;14 ON THE FIRST DAY OF TABERNACLES WE READ FROM THE SECTION OF THE FESTIVALS IN LEVITICUS, AND ON THE OTHER DAYS OF TABERNACLES THE SECTION OF THE OFFERINGS OF THE FESTIVAL.15 ON HANUKKAH WE READ THE SECTION OF [THE DEDICATION OF THE ALTAR BY] THE PRINCES;16 ON PURIM, ‘AND AMALEK CAME’;17 ON NEW MOONS, ‘AND ON YOUR NEW MOONS’;18 ON MA'AMADOTH,19 THE ACCOUNT OF THE CREATION;20 ON FAST DAYS,21
(1) R. Ammi held that on Sabbaths a special portion was substituted for the regular one on special occasions, cf. supra p. 180.
(2) On which the ma'amadoth met for prayer and a fast could be held.
(3) Though there is on fast days. V. infra.
(4) I.e., the order of haftarahs is resumed on Sabbaths and of portions on other days.
(5) And so there is no time to read the Law; v. Ta'an 12b.
(6) I.e., the conduct of the inhabitants.
(7) Neh. IX, 3.
(8) That the reading of the Law was in the morning.
(9) Ezra IX, 4.
(10) Ibid. 5.
(11) I.e., Lev. XXIII. Heb. Torath Kohanim, (lit., ‘law of the priests’), the name given by the Rabbis to Leviticus.
(12) Deut. XVI, 9ff.
(13) Lev. XXIII, 23ff.
(14) Lev. XVI.
(15) Num. XXIX, 12ff.
(16) Num. VII.
(17) Ex. XVII, 8ff.
(18) Num. XXVIII, 11ff.
(19) V. Glos.
(20) Because the heaven and earth are preserved on account of the sacrifices. V. Ta'an 26a.
(21) [According to Geonic authorities the reference here is to fasts for rain. v. Lewin, Ozar ha-Geonim, Megillah p. 60].
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 31a
THE SECTION OF BLESSINGS AND CURSES.1 THE SECTION OF CURSES MUST NOT BE BROKEN UP, BUT MUST ALL BE READ BY ONE PERSON. ON MONDAY AND THURSDAY AND ON SABBATH AT MINHAH THE REGULAR PORTION OF THE WEEK IS READ, AND THIS IS NOT RECKONED AS PART OF THE READING [FOR THE SUCCEEDING SABBATH],2 AS IT SAYS,3 AND MOSES DECLARED UNTO THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL. THE APPOINTED SEASONS OF THE LORD;’4 WHICH IMPLIES THAT IT IS PART OF THEIR ORDINANCE THAT EACH SHOULD BE READ IN ITS SEASON.
GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: ‘On Passover we read from the section of the festivals5 and for haftarah the account of the Passover of Gilgal’.6 Now7 that we keep two days Passover, the haftarah of the first day is the account of the Passover in Gilgal and of the second day that of the Passover of Josiah.8 ‘On the other days of the Passover the various passages in the Torah relating to Passover are read’9 What are these? — R. Papa said: The mnemonic is M'A'P'U’.10 ‘On the last day of Passover we read, And it came to pass when God sent,11 and as haftarah, And David spoke’.12 On the next day we read, All the firstborn,13 and for haftarah, This very day.14 Abaye said: Nowadays the communities are accustomed to read ‘Draw the ox’, ‘Sanctify with money’, ‘Hew in the wilderness’, and ‘Send the firstborn’.15 ‘On Pentecost, we read Seven weeks,16 and for haftarah a chapter from Habakuk.17 According to others, we read In the third month,18 and for haftarah the account of the Divine Chariot’.19 Nowadays that we keep two days, we follow both courses, but in the reverse order.20 On New Year we read On the seventh month,21 and for haftarah, Is Ephraim a darling son unto me.’22 According to others, we read And the Lord remembered Sarah23 and for haftarah the story of Hannah.24 Nowadays that we keep two days, on the first day we follow the ruling of the other authority, and on the next day we say, And God tried Abraham,25 with ‘Is Ephraim a darling son to me’ for haftarah. On the Day of Atonement we read After the death26 and for haftarah,For thus saith the high and lofty one.27 At minhah we read the section of forbidden marriages28 and for haftarah the book of Jonah.29
R. Johanan said:30 Wherever you find [mentioned in the Scriptures] the power of the Holy One, blessed be He, you also find his gentleness mentioned. This fact is stated in the Torah, repeated In the Prophets, and stated a third time in the [Sacred] Writings. It is written in the Torah, For the Lord your God, he is the God of gods and Lord of lords,31 and it says immediately afterwards, He doth execute justice for the fatherless and widow. It is repeated in the Prophets: For thus saith the High and Lofty One, that inhabiteth eternity whose name is holy,32 and it says immediately afterwards, [I dwell] with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit. It is stated a third time in the [Sacred] Writings, as it is written: Extol him that rideth upon the skies, whose name is the Lord,33 and immediately afterwards it is written, A father of the fatherless and a judge of the widows.
‘On34 the first day of Tabernacles we read the section of the festivals in Leviticus, and for haftarah, Behold a day cometh for the Lord’.35 Nowadays that we keep two days, on the next day we read the same Section from the Torah, but what do we read for haftarah.? — And all the men of Israel assembled unto King Solomon.36 On the other days of the festival we read the section of the offerings of the festival.37 On the last festival day we read, ‘All the firstlings’, with the commandments and statutes [which precede it],38 and for haftarah, ‘And it was so that when Solomon had made an end’.39 On the next day we read, ‘And this is the blessing’,40 and for haftarah, ‘And Solomon stood’.41
R. Huna said in the name of R. Shesheth: On the Sabbath which falls in the intermediate days of the festival, whether Passover or Tabernacles, the passage we read from the Torah is ‘See, Thou [sayest unto me]’42 and for haftarah on Passover the passage of the ‘dry bones’,43 and on Tabernacles, ‘In that day when Gog shall come’.44 On Hanukkah we read the section of the Princes45 and for haftarah [on Sabbath] that of the lights in Zechariah.46 Should there fall two Sabbaths in Hanukkah, on the first we read [for haftarah] the passage of the lights in Zechariah and on the second that of the lights of Solomon.47 On Purim we read ‘And Amalek came’.48 On New Moon, ‘On your new moons’.49 If New Moon falls on a Sabbath, the haftarah is [the passage concluding] ‘And it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another’.50 If it falls on a Sunday, on the day before the haftarah is, ‘And Jonathan said to him, tomorrow is the new moon’.51 R. Huna said:
(1) Lev. XXVI.
(2) And must be repeated on the Sabbath.
(3) This refers to all the previous part of the Mishnah.
(4) Lev. XXIII, 44.
(5) Lev. XXIII.
(6) Josh. V.
(7) This is an interpolation in the Baraitha inserted by an Amora who lived In Babylon and gives the practice of the Galuth.
(8) II Kings XXIII.
(9) Lit., ‘he collects and reads of the subject of the day’.
(10) M=mishku (Draw and take you lambs, Ex. XII, 21); A=im ( If thou lend money to any of my people, Ibid. XXII, 24); P = pesol (Hew thee two tables of stone, Ex. XXXIV, 1); U = wayedaber (And God spoke, Num. IX, 1). All these passages go on to speak of Passover.
(11) Ex. XII, 17 relating to the passage of the Red Sea which is supposed to have taken place on the seventh day.
(12) David's song of deliverance in II Sam. XXII.
(13) Deut. XV, 19.
(14) Isa. X, 32 referring to the overthrow of Sennacherib which is supposed to have taken place on Passover.
(15) A mnemonic of the key words in the passages following the order: Ex. Xli, 21; Lev. XXII, 27; Ex. XIII; Ex. XXII, 24; Ex. XXXIV, 1; Num. IX, I; Ex. XIII, 17; Deut. XV, 19. Cf. Tosaf.
(16) Deut. XVI, 9.
(17) Hab. III, which describes the giving of the Law, commemorated (according to the Rabbis) by Pentecost.
(18) Ex. XIX.
(19) Ezek. I, describing the heavenly hosts who also are supposed to have appeared on Mount Sinai.
(20) I.e., Ex. XIX on the first day.
(21) Num. XXIX, 1.
(22) Jer. XXXI, 20. The text proceeds, ‘For I shall surely remember him’, which is suitable to the day of memorial.
(23) Gen. XXI, in order that the merit of Isaac may be remembered.
(24) l Sam. I, because Hannah was supposed to have been visited on New Year.
(25) Gen. XXII.
(26) Lev. XVI.
(27) Isa. LVII, 15, which goes on to speak of repentance.
(28) Lev. XVIII. Apparently this section is chosen because the temptation to sexual offences is particularly strong
(Rashi). Cf. Tosaf.
(29) Which speaks of repentance.
(30) The reference to Isa. LVII leads to the introduction of the passage which follows.
(31) Deut. X, 17.
(32) Isa. LVII, 15.
(33) Ps. LXVIII, 5.
(34) The Baraitha is here resumed.
(35) Zech. XIV, in which the festival of Tabernacles is mentioned.
(36) I Kings VIII, 2. The verse continues, ‘on the festival in the seventh month’.
(37) Num. XXIX, 12-34.
(38) The ‘commandments and statutes’ are those contained in Deut. XIV, 22-XV, 18, after which follows ‘all the firstling,’. A better reading is: ‘We read commandments and statutes and all the firstling.
(39) I Kings, VIII, 54.
(40) Deut. XXXIII; the conclusion of the Torah.
(41) I Kings VIII, 22.
(42) Ex. XXXIII, 12. The festivals are mentioned in the sequel.
(43) Ezek. XXXVII. The ‘dry bones’ are supposed to have been those of the Israelites who tried to break out of Egypt before the time (Rashi).
(44) Ezek. XXXVIII, 18. The subject of this chapter is supposed to be the same as that of the chapter of Zechariah read on the first day of Tabernacles (Rashi).
(45) The dedication of the altar in Num. VII.
(46) Zech. IV. .
(47) 1 Kings VII, 40-50.
(48) Ex. XVII, 8ff.
(49) Num. XXVIII, 11.
(50) Isa. LXVI, 23.
(51) I Sam. XX, 18.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 31b
If the new moon of Ab falls on a Sabbath the haftarah is [the passage with the verse] ‘Your new moons and your appointed seasons my soul hateth, they are a burden unto me’.1 What is the meaning of ‘they are a burden unto me’? God said: ‘It is not enough for Israel that they sin before Me, but they impose on Me the burden of considering what punishment2 I shall bring upon them". On the Ninth of Ab itself what is the haftarah? — Rab said: ‘[The passage containing], How is she become a harlot’.3 What is the section from the Torah? — It has been taught: Others say, ‘But if ye will not hearken unto me’;4 R. Nathan b. Joseph says, ‘How long will this people despise me’;5 and some say, ‘How long shall I bear with this evil congregation’.6 Abaye said: Nowadays the custom has been adopted of reading [from the Torah] ‘When thou shalt beget children’,7 and for haftarah, ‘I will utterly consume them’.8
ON MA'AMADOTH THE ACCOUNT OF THE CREATION. Whence is this rule derived? — Said R.. Ammi: But for the ma'amadoth, the heaven and earth would not be firmly established, as it says, But for My covenant [which continues] day and night, I had not set the statutes of heaven and earth,9 and it is written, And he said, O Lord God, Whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it.10 Said Abraham before the Holy One, blessed be He: Sovereign of the Universe, perhaps God forbid, Israel will sin before Thee and Thou wilt do to them as Thou didst to the generation of the Flood and the generation of the Division?11 He answered, Not so. He then said before Him: Sovereign of the Universe, by what shall I know this? He said: Take me a heifer of three years old12 etc. He then said before Him: Sovereign of the Universe, This is very well for the time when the Temple will be standing, but in the time when there will be no Temple what will befall them? He replied to him: I have already fixed for them the order of the sacrifices. Whenever they will read the section dealing with them, I will reckon it as if they were bringing me an offering, and forgive all their inquities.
ON FAST DAYS [THE PORTION OF] BLESSINGS AND CURSES IS READ, AND THERE MUST BE NO BREAK IN [THE READING OF] THE CURSES. Whence is this rule derived? — R. Hiyya b. Gamda replied in the name of R. Assi: Because Scripture says, My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord.13 Resh Lakish said: It is because a blessing14 should not be said for chastisement. How then is the reader to do? A Tanna taught: He commences his reading with a verse15 before them and concludes it with a verse after them. Said Abaye: This rule was laid down only for the curses in Leviticus, but in the curses in Deuteronomy a break may be made. What is the reason? — In the former Israel are addressed in the plural number and Moses uttered them on behalf of the Almighty;16 in the latter Israel are addressed in the singular, and Moses uttered them in his own name.17 Levi b. Buti was once reading the curses [in Deuteronomy] in the presence of R. Huna hesitatingly. Said R. Huna to him: Do just as you please, the rule [against making a break] applies only to the curses in Leviticus, but in those in Deuteronomy a break may be made.
It has been taught: R. Simeon b. Eleazar says: Ezra made a regulation for Israel that they should read the curses in Leviticus before Pentecost and those in Deuteronomy before New Year. What is the reason? — Abaye — or you may also say Resh Lakish said: So that the year may end along with its curses. I grant you that in regard to the curses in Deuteronomy you can say, ‘so that the year should end along with its curses’. But as regards those In Leviticus — is Pentecost a New Year? — Yes; Pentecost is also a New Year, as we have learnt: ‘On Pentecost is the new year for [fruit of] the tree’.18
It has been taught: R. Simeon b. Eleazar says: If old men say to you, throw down’, and young men say to you ‘build up’ throw down and do not build up, because destruction by old men is construction, and construction by boys is destruction; and the example is Rehoboam son of Solomon.19
Our Rabbis taught: The place [in the Torah] where they leave off in the morning service on Sabbath is the place where they begin at Minhah; the place where they leave off at Minhah [on Sabbath] is the place where they begin on Monday; the place where they leave off on Monday is the place where they begin on Thursday; the place where they leave off on Thursday is the place where they begin on the next Sabbath. This is the ruling of R. Meir. R. Judah, however, says that the place where they leave off in the morning service on Sabbath is the place where they begin on [Sabbath] Minah, on Monday, on Thursday, and on the next Sabbath. R. Zera said: The halachah is that the place where they leave off in the morning service on Sabbath is the place where they begin at Minhah, on Monday, on Thursday and on the next Sabbath. Why does he not say, ‘the halachah follows Rabbi Judah’? —
(1) Isa. I, 14.
(2) Lit. ‘harsh decree’.
(3) Ibid. 21.
(4) Lev. XXVI, 14ff.
(5) Num. XIV, 11.
(6) Ibid. 27.
(7) Deut. IV, 25.
(8) Jer. VIII, 13.
(9) Jer. XXXIII, 25.
(10) Gen. XV, 8.
(11) The division of tongues at the Tower of Babel.
(12) Indicating that Israel would obtain forgiveness through the sacrifices.
(13) Prov. III, 11. As much as to say, Do not treat the portion of the curses disrespectfully by giving the impression that you do not wish to continue with the reading of it.
(14) The blessing said over the reading of the Torah.
(15) More strictly, a few verses, because the curses commence a new paragraph.
(16) ‘If ye shall not hearken unto me etc.’.
(17) ‘If thou shalt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God etc.
(18) R.H. 16a.
(19) Who destroyed his power by following the advice of the young men which was intended to strengthen it; v. Ned. 50a.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 32a
Because [the names] might be reversed.1
Our Rabbis taught: [The one who reads] opens the scroll and sees [the place], then rolls it together and says the blessing, then opens it again and reads. So R. Meir. R. Judah says: He opens and looks and says the blessing, and reads. What is R. Meir's reason? — It is similar to that of ‘Ulla [in a parallel case]; for ‘Ulla said: Why did they lay down that he who reads from the Torah should not prompt the translator? So that people should not say that the translation is written in the Torah. So here [R. Meir's reason is], so that they should not say that the blessings are written in the Torah. And [what says] R. Judah [to this]? — With regard to translation a mistake might be made, but no mistake will be made with regard to the blessings.2 R. Zera said in the name of R. Mattenah: The halachah is that he opens and looks, then says the blessing and reads. Why not say, ‘The halachah follows R. Judah’? Because the names might be reversed.3
R. Zera said in the name of R. Mattenah. No sanctity attaches to the boards and to the platforms.4
R. Shefatiah said in the name of R. Johanan: When one rolls up a scroll of the Torah, he should make it close at a seam.5
R. Shefatiah further said in the name of R. Johanan: One who rolls together a sefer torah should roll it from without and should not roll it from within,6 and when he fastens it he should fasten it from within and should not fasten it from without.7
R. Shefatiah further said in the name of R. Johanan: If ten have had a reading of the Torah, the senior among them rolls up the sefer torah. He who rolls it up receives the reward of all of them, since R. Joshua b. Levi said: If ten have had a reading of the Torah, the one who rolls it up receives the reward of all of them. The reward of all of them, think you? No; say rather, he receives a reward equal to that of all of them.
R. Shefatiah further said in the name of R. Johanan: Whence do we know that we may avail ourselves of a chance utterance8 [as an omen]?9 Because it says, And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee saying.10 This applies, however, only if one hears the voice of a man in town and of a woman in the country,11 and Only if it says, yes, yes, or no, no.12
R. Shefatiah further said in the name of R. Johanan: If one reads the Scripture without a melody13 or repeats the Mishnah without a tune,14 of him the Scripture Says, Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good etc.15 Abaye strongly demurred to this, saying, Because he cannot sing agreeably, are you to apply to him the verse, ‘ordinances whereby they shall not live’? No; this verse is to be applied as by R. Mesharshia, who said: If two scholars live in the same town and do not treat one another's halachic pronouncements respectfully, of them the verse says, I gave them also statutes that were not good and ordinances whereby they should not live.
R. Parnak said in the name of R. Johanan: Whoever takes hold of a scroll of the Torah without a covering16 is buried without a covering. Without a covering, think you? — Say rather, without the covering protection of religious performances. Without religious performances, think you? — No, said Abaye; he is buried without the covering protection of that religious performance.17
R. Jannai the son of the old R. Jannai said in the name of the great R. Jannai: It is better that the covering [of the scroll] should be rolled up [with the scroll] and not that the scroll of the Torah should be rolled up [inside the covering].18
And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the appointed seasons of the Lord.19 It is part of their observance that [the section relating to] each one of them should be read in its season.
Our Rabbis taught: Moses laid down a rule for the Israelites that they should enquire and give expositions concerning the subject of the day — the laws of Passover on Passover, the laws of Pentecost on Pentecost, and the laws of Tabernacles on Tabernacles.
(1) I. e., the opinion of R. Judah might be assigned to R. Meir and vice versa.
(2) For everyone knows that they are not written in the Torah.
(3) V. p. 192, n. 3.
(4) הלוחות והבימות. Opinions are divided as to what is meant by these two terms. We should naturally suppose ‘boards’ to mean a kind of noticeboard in the synagogue and ‘platforms’ the stand from which the Torah is read. But there is good authority for supposing that both words are technical terms for parts of the scroll of the Torah, ‘boards’ being the side margins and platforms’ the upper margins, and the meaning will be that no sanctity attaches to these if they have been cut away from the scroll (v. Tosaf.) [J. Meg. III, 1 reads בימה ולװחין; this leads Krauss (Synagogale Altertumer, p. 388) to render, ‘the reading desk (made of boards, on which the Torah was read) and the platform (on which it stood)’. In a word, the almemor].
(5) So that if it is accidentally pulled, it should come asunder easily without being torn.
(6) I.e., he should have the written side of the scroll facing him (Asheri).
(7) I.e., the wrapping should be fastened in such a way that he will not need to turn the scroll over when he comes to open it again (Asheri). Rashi explains this passage differently.
(8) בת קול ‘a reverberating sound’, ‘echoing’, — as it were — a thought in one's mind (Rashi).
(9) In spite of the prohibition of divination (Deut. XVIII, 11).
(10) Isa. XXX, 21.
(11) I.e., in an unusual place.
(12) I.e., says the word twice.
(13) As indicated by the singing accents.
(14) To aid the memory (Tosaf.).
(15) Ezek. XX, 25.
(16) Lit., ‘naked’.
(17) I.e., the precept of reading or rolling up the scroll which he performed at that time is not accounted to him as a merit (Tosaf.).
(18) [Aliter: It is better that the covering (of the scroll) should be rolled up (round the scroll) than that the scroll of the Torah (itself) should be rolled up. MS.M. reads, The covering should be rolled (round the scroll) but not the scroll itself (without a covering); v. R. Hananel and D.S. It may however mean: It is better that the covering should be rolled round the scroll than that the scroll should be wrapped up by being rolled along the scroll].
(19) Lev. XXIII, 44.
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